Feeds

Apple okay with Safari 'carpet bombing' vuln for now

'Eh. Don't expect much from us'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next time you get nagged to install Apple's Safari browser keep this in mind: The company's security team has dismissed research that shows a simple way miscreants can use the browser to litter an end user's machine with malicious files.

According to researcher Nitesh Dhanjani, Safari doesn't bother to ask for user permission before downloading resources from websites. When encountering malicious iframes and other scripts, the browser obediently does what the website tells it to do, including downloading a file as many times as html scripts order.

When informed of this "carpet bombing" vulnerability (as researcher Billy (BK) Rios has dubbed it), Apple agreed that it might be good if Safari actually checked with the user before downloading potentially vicious files, but signaled that kind of addition wasn't much of a priority.

"Please note that we are not treating this as a security issue, but a further measure to raise the bar against unwanted downloads," someone from Apple's security team told Dhanjani. "We want to set your expectations that this could take quite a while, if it ever gets incorporated."

This is unfortunate because the vulnerability allows miscreants to dump hundreds of malicious files into a user's default download location (in Windows it's the desktop and in OS X it's the download folder). As Nate McFeters at the Zero Day Blog sees it, it wouldn't be hard for a rogue site to load up a desktop with dozens of booby-trapped "My Computer" icons that look like the real Windows icon and wait for a confused user to accidentally click on them.

Apple has recently taken lumps because it uses its security update mechanism as a way to push Safari on users who have never installed the browser. This shameless pimping offends the sensibilities of many who believe security update notices should be reserved only for buggy software that presents a clear and present danger - that is for buggy software that's already installed.

We asked Apple to comment, but as of time of publication, they didn't respond. So, we've lit a candle in their honor.

Dhanjani said he discovered a separate, high-risk vulnerability that can be used to remotely steal local files from the user's hard drive, and the company has acknowledged the bug and promised to fix it.

Dhanjani's research comes on the heels of a separate report from Aviv Raff that points out a vulnerability in IE 7 and IE 8 that could allow an attacker to remotely execute malicious code on an end user's machine. The fault lies within the "Print Table as Links" feature, which expands the options users have for printing web-related text.

A Microsoft spokesman says company researchers are looking in to the report, but that on the surface exploitation would require "significant" user interaction. Specifically, the victim would have to select non-default printing options and then print a malicious page. Indeed, Secunia rates the vulnerability "less critical," its second-lowest rating on a five-notch scale. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.