Feeds

Researchers out Apple over unpatched iCal bugs

Too slow for Core's liking

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Researchers at Core Security have released details of three vulnerabilities in Apple iCal scheduling application, after four months of talks with the company.

The security tools vendor said it is important for users to know about the flaws and make security precautions, even without a patch from Apple.

The iCal bugs comprise a single memory corruption flaw and two null-pointer vulnerabilities. The memory corruption bug creates a mechanism for attackers to inject hostile code into affected systems. The null pointer bugs might be used to crash the scheduling program.

Each flaws stems from a failure by Apple software to sanitize part fields within iCal calendar files (.ics). iCal versions 3.01 and 3.02 (the current version) are vulnerable.

The application comes bundled with Mac OS X, so many Apple users are at risk.

There are two possible exploits:

  • Send maliciously constructed electronic calendar updates to iCal users
  • Trick users into importing malformed calendar files from a website under the control of hackers

There's no evidence that black hats have launched attacks based on the flaws, but the opportunity for mischief remains.

In the absence of a patch, the workaround is DON'T. Don't apply calendar updates and Don't accept files from untrusted sources.

Waiting for Godot

Core researchers discovered the flaws in January 2008. Since then they have worked with the vendor through a long and protracted series of exchanges, as detailed in an advisory on BugTraq here. The inconclusive argument revolved around whether the bugs were serious enough to patch and, if so, when Apple would issue patches.

Eventually Core said it would publish an advisory on Wednesday (21 May) in the belief Apple was ready to release a fix on Monday (19 May). In the event this patch failed to appear, and is still missing in action two days later.

Ivan Arce, CTO of Core security, confirmed that no patch had been released for the iCal vulnerabilities by Thursday afternoon. Apple released fixes for a WikiServer vulnerability – notified to it by Core Security at the same time as the iCal bugs – back in February.

iCal comes bundled with Mac OS X. Arce was reluctant to speculate as to why the iCal fixes had taken so long to develop, but suggested that testing might account for the delay.

Apple has a factious relationship with some security researchers. But Arce found the consumer electronics giant no better or worse than many vendors he deals with.

“I don't think its response any worse," he said. "Apple's security team was proactive in responding to us and came back with analysis on the impact of the flaw. We didn't intend to release an advisory before it but we think it was important to get the information out so that people can know how to protect themselves."

“Apple postponed the release of a patch many times," he added. "I think this is more to do more to do with its internal process, and the need to do regression testing, than complexity of the flaws.” ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.