Apple patches critical 'drive-by' Safari bugs

Fixes 27 flaws in WebKit browser engine

Apple today patched 27 vulnerabilities in Safari for Mac OS X and Windows, 85 per cent of them critical bugs that could be exploited to hijack Macs or PCs.

Of the 27 flaws fixed in Safari 5.0.3 for Mac and Windows, four were patched by Apple two months ago in its iOS mobile operating system, and at least three had been addressed by Google in its Chrome browser as far back as mid-August.

Chrome and Safari share the open-source WebKit browser engine. Apple identified all 27 vulnerabilities it patched today as within WebKit.

Most of the vulnerabilities addressed in the Safari updates -- Apple also patched the older Safari 4 that runs in Mac OS X 10.4, aka Tiger -- were accompanied by the phrase "arbitrary code execution," which is Apple's way of saying "critical."

Unlike other browser makers, including Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, Apple doesn't assign severity labels to vulnerabilities.

According to Apple, the 23 critical bugs can be exploited by "drive-by" attacks that launch as soon as a victim browses to a malicious Web site.

Among the non-critical vulnerabilities patched today was one that could be used by unscrupulous site owners to secretly track users' browsing habits, even when Safari has disabled cookies. Another flaw could let identity thieves spoof the URL showing in Safari's address bar, a common tactic of phishers who feed bogus sites to users in the hope of capturing passwords to online bank accounts.

Apple also fixed several stability bugs, boosted the reliability of its pop-up ad blocker and improved the accuracy of the choices displayed in Top Sites, the navigational feature that posts thumbnails of frequently-visited sites.

As has been the case before, Apple credited a wide range of researchers who work for rivals for finding flaws it fixed today: A third of the vulnerabilities were reported by Google developers, one was submitted by an engineer in Microsoft's bug research team, and another was filed by someone working for Opera Software, the Norwegian company that creates the browser by the same name.

Today's update was the first since Sept. 7 , and the third since Apple rolled out Safari 5 in June.

Safari 5.0.3 can be downloaded from Apple's site for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Mac OS X users will be notified of the new version automatically, while Windows users already running Safari will be alerted by the Apple Software Update tool.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationsMicrosoftsecuritybrowserssoftwareMalware and Vulnerabilitiesoperating systemsmozillaAppleMac OSGoogle

More about AppleFaceTimeGoogleMacsMicrosoftMozillaOpera Software

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Gregg Keizer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place