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Apple squeezes out iPhone update before Black Hat

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Apple pushed out a raft of security updates for its much hyped iPhone on Tuesday. Availability of the first iPhone patches comes just ahead of a planned presentation of problems with the phone's software due to take place at the Black Hat conference in Vegas on Thursday. Apple also updated its desktop software.

Several of the iPhone bugs, which inevitably have drawn the most attention, revolve around the security shortcomings of the Safari browser bundled with the phone. The worst of these involves a buffer overflow vulnerability in the JavaScript engine in Safari. This vulnerability created a potential means to execute malicious code simply by tricking a user of the smartphone into visiting a maliciously constructed website.

The critical flaw, discovered by Charlie Miller and Jake Honoroff of Independent Security Evaluators, is expected to be a core focus of the Miller's presentation on Mac OS X security at Black Hat on Thursday.

The iPhone v1.0.1 Update also covers a separate cross-site scripting flaw in Safari as well as a memory corruption flaw in WebKit that creates a mechanism for hackers to inject hostile code onto the device. The patch also covers an address spoofing bug in WebKit, the application framework engine for Mac OS X, and a cross-site scripting flaw in WebCore, the HTML layout engine for Mac OS X.

Users can apply the security upgrade through iTunes or by checking for updates manually, as explained in an advisory from the consumer electronics firm here. More details on the vulnerabilities can be found in a bulletin from security notification firm Secunia here.

Apple also released a more general security update for OS X and (less significantly) a third beta of Safari for Windows. These updates cover the corresponding flaws in Apple's iPhone software and a whole lot more. ®

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