Feeds

Leopard security bug puts Mail users at risk

Nasty vuln, purged from Tiger, seizes new OS

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Programmers have reintroduced a yawning security hole in Leopard, the latest version of Apple's highly regarded operating system, after having patched it more than 20 months ago in an earlier version, a researcher has warned.

The bug in Apple Mail makes it possible for attackers to run malicious code on a victim's machine by disguising an executable program as an image or other type of innocuous file, said Juergen Schmidt, editor-in-chief at Heise Security. A user can become infected simply by clicking on an attachment that looks like a jpeg image.

The bug is similar, if not identical, to one that Apple patched in March 2006, which also affected the Safari browser and iChat instant messenger program. The fix prompted Tiger, Leopard's predecessor, to inspect attached files and present a warning if the file a user clicked on was potentially unsafe.

Alas, that warning has largely vanished when Leopard users click on disguised executable files received in Mail, said Schmidt, who has set up a demo exploiting the bug here. About 90 percent of the time, he said, the file will run with no warning. He has yet to pinpoint what causes the dialog box to appear sometimes and not others.

"You would think that since they went to the trouble to fix it in Tiger, why reintroduce it in Leopard?" said Kevin Long, a researcher at Verizon Business, who specializes in security issues affecting Apple software. "The fact that they had done that before in Tiger and they didn't pro actively put that in Leopard is unfortunate."

Apple representatives didn't respond to a request for comment by time of writing. Apple has sold more than 2 million copies of Leopard to date.

Shortcomings in file validation have plagued Apple for some time now. The original bug resided in Mac operating systems for years before Apple finally patched the vulnerability. Even then, the security measure was criticized by some because it didn't work with third-party apps such as Firefox or Thunderbird and because OS X still made it easy to disguise malicious files as images.

Schmidt says he has not yet analyzed Safari or iChat to see if they properly validate files under Leopard but says "it's entirely possible" they don't. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New twist as rogue antivirus enters death throes
That's not the website you're looking for
ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora after Twitter blockade
Nothing we can do to stop them, says decentralized network
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.