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Apple fixes critical Mac holes triggered by image files

Attack of the killer PNGs

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Apple on Wednesday patched 18 holes in its Mac OS X operating system, seven that could allow an attacker to remotely take over a machine when a user does nothing more than view a booby-trapped image.

The ImageIO Framework, which helps Mac applications read and write popular image formats, was responsible for five of the image vulnerabilities. A color management interface known as ColorSync and a component known as ImageRAW were to blame for the other two. The vulnerabilities create an ideal scenario for attackers, who could use specially manipulated PNG, OpenEXR and RAW files to remotely execute malicious code on the machines of oblivious users.

The flaws are the result of unitialized memory errors, unitialized pointer issues and heap, stack and integer overflows. Other patches fixed code-execution vulnerabilities in the OS X kernel, login window and other components in the OS.

At least one of the remote-execution vulnerabilities, contained in a component known as XQuery, involved buggy code that implements data based on the XML, or Extensible Markup Language, standard. Earlier Wednesday, security researchers in Finland warned of critical vulnerabilities in open-source XML Libraries that affect an enormous array of applications, but at time of writing it was unclear if the two were related.

The patches, which arrive as part of OS X 10.5.8, also fixed bugs in MobileMe. Apple has the rundown here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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