Feeds

Naughty Flash Player BURIED ALIVE in OS X Mavericks Safari sandbox

Cupertino following the lead of Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Adobe Flash Player plugin runs in a locked-down sandbox under Safari on OS X 10.9 "Mavericks," making Apple the latest major web browser vendor to provide additional security when viewing Flash content on the web.

According to a memo posted by Adobe security strategist Peleus Uhley on Thursday, Flash Player in Mavericks is protected by an OS X App Sandbox, a security feature first introduced in OS X 10.7 "Lion" in 2011.

Apple's relationship with Flash has long been a fraught one. In his landmark "Thoughts on Flash" memo in 2010, Steve Jobs spelled out the reasons why Adobe's tech wouldn't be allowed on iOS devices, and security ranked high among his points.

"Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009," Jobs wrote. "We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now."

With Flash running in an OS X App Sandbox, the plugin is restricted to reading and writing files from only those locations on disk that are necessary for it to function properly. Its access to local device resources and inter-process communications (IPC) channels is also limited, and it has diminished network privileges.

Apple's OS X App Sandbox diagram

Apple's App Sandbox feature in OS X enforces security controls at the kernel level

Safari is not the first browser to implement such protections. Google took the lead in working with Adobe to develop sandboxing technology for Flash running in its Chrome browser in 2012, and Adobe helped to add similar capabilities to Firefox and Internet Explorer later that same year.

Not that these systems have been invulnerable to attack. Shortly after Adobe implemented its sandbox for Firefox, the security layer was attacked by hackers to escalate access permissions, forcing Adobe, Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft to issue additional patches.

Still, by adding similar sandbox protections to Safari, Apple at last has given OS X users similar protections when viewing Flash content as those already enjoyed by users on other platforms, including Windows and Linux.

The catch? The new sandboxing feature is only available on Safari 7.0, and for that you'll need to be running Mavericks. Users of OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" and earlier are stuck on Safari 6.1, which takes a far more liberal attitude toward the Flash Player plugin. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
BadUSB instructs gadget chips to inject key-presses, redirect net traffic and more
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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?