'Month of Kernel Bugs' Ends, First Adware for Mac OS X?
Last month's Month of Kernel Bugs (MOKB) has concluded, and a total of 10 Mac OS X vulnerabilities has been found. The vulnerabilities were wide-ranging, from a wireless driver exploit to a system call, multiple disk image vulnerabilities, and most recently an AppleTalk vulnerability (among others). Apple patched the first wireless driver exploit along with other unrelated vulnerabilities this week, however all remaining MOKB vulnerabilities remain un-patched.
MOKB organizer "LMH" spoke to MacRumors about the project. According to LMH, most of the project's time was spent on Linux and the Mac OS, both of which were described as "not hard" to break.
The Linux kernel takes little time to break. I'm more familiar with the code and thus it also takes less time to isolate issues. OS X kernel (XNU) takes less time but depending on the area you're checking, debugging and isolation may require a bit more time (if you take into account that AppleTalk source code is almost unreadable and totally deprecated) [...] I didn't have much time left for working on Microsoft Windows but I've received the most helpful feedback from the MSRC people on potentially interesting stuff to check. Not a huge reference of internal code nor NDA covered documents, but at least enough to start with.
In LMH's point of view, the state of Mac OS X security is not great.
From the technical perspective, OS X security is rather poor, at least when it comes to kernel-land code. This isn't a sign of negligence of Apple, but obviously when you take code from many different places and stick it together, it's prone to problems. Not just new ones but also old issues that 'went under the radar'. [...] (ed note: now comparing MS to Apple) I can say that Microsoft has a more thorough auditing process and investment when it comes to kernel code than Apple. They also have the advantage of having such code being produced within the company. Mac OS X kernel, for example, depends heavily on FreeBSD development. A security flaw in the FreeBSD kernel will likely affect OS X and probably other BSD "flavours"
However, just because LMH is a bit critical of Mac OS X's security, don't call him an Apple-hater.
Taking security arguments apart, I have to say that Mac OS X is a pretty well integrated system. It's tightly packaged [...] and nice looking. I'm an OS X user myself and I certainly feel like Apple has invested long time on tweaking the little details. Now they just have to invest a little more on security matters, but not hiring a 'turnover security firm' to do the consulting that leaves the job half done. That's what failed, IMHO.
First Adware for Mac OS X?
In related news, F-Secure claims to have received what is possibly the first ever proof-of-concept Adware program for Mac OS X. The program, dubbed iAdware, will launch Safari to specified web pages when the user used any number of applications, and installation of the adware did not require admin privileges.