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Security researchers poke holes in Safari

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Security hunters have discovered numerous bugs in a Windows version of Safari, hours after Apple released a beta version of the browser into the wild.

Both Windows and Mac OS X versions of Safari 3 were released at a developer conference in San Francisco on Monday as part of Apple's plans to grow its market share from 4.9 per cent. Apple chief exec Steve Jobs described Safari as "the fastest browser on Windows", claiming that it runs twice as fast as IE.

Pay back

Apple has adopted an antagonistic relationship with security researchers, particularly over recent months, so it's perhaps no surprise that white-hat hackers have been working overtime to unearth bugs in the firm's browser software.

Claims on the Safari download page that "Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one" further motivated hackers to attempt to pee on Apple's parade - efforts that have not been in vain.

David Maynor, who's best known for discovering an infamous Wi-Fi hack of Apple machines running third-party drivers, has already discovered four denial of service (ie crashing) and two remote code execution bugs with the software. "Not bad for an afternoon of idle fuzzing," Maynor writes. "One of the bugs found in the beta copy of Safari on Windows works on the production copy of OSX as well," he adds.

Maynor and Apple are not on speaking terms in the aftermath of an unsavoury row that erupted after Maynor's presentation of Wi-Fi hacks at last year's Black Hat briefings. Apple is accused of helping to spread disinformation about Maynor and Jon "Johnny Cache" Ellch's methodology in a bid to discredit their research.

And there's more

Separately, security researcher Thor Larholm has uncovered a URL protocol handler command injection vulnerability that creates a means to inject hostile code onto Windows systems running beta versions of the browser software. "I now have a fully functional command execution vulnerability, triggered without user interaction simply by visiting a website," Larholm writes.

Another security researcher, Aviv Raff, discovered another potentially exploitable memory corruption bug after pounding Safari with fuzzing tools.

As previously reported, users of the beta software on localised versions of Windows are also having problems. Safari is apt to crash for these users when loading bookmarks, for example. ®

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