Mac Security In Spotlight - MacBook Air Hacked, Apple Patch Times

A MacBook Air running an up to date installation of Mac OS 10.5 Leopard was the first laptop to fall in last week's CanSecWest PWN2OWN contest, casting the spotlight once again on the Mac's security.

The contest pitted a MacBook Air against a Vista laptop and a Ubuntu Linux laptop, all fully patched. While all 3 laptops did not fall the first day which only allowed attacks against the base OS for a prize of $20,000 (+laptop), the MacBook Air reportedly took only 2 minutes to fall on day 2 when conference rules were relaxed to include all OS-bundled software for a prize of $10,000 (+ laptop).

While details of the exploit are under non-disclosure while Apple works on the issue, the attack was levied against Safari, after the user was directed to a specially crafted website (as allowed by the rules). The exploit has been reported to be an overflow bug in Webkit.

The remaining two laptops survived the rest of the second day, but the Vista laptop fell the following day when Adobe Flash player was installed as the rules were further relaxed to allow for attack of popular 3rd party applications. The Linux laptop was not exploited.

While Apple is aware of and working on the vulnerability, a recent study has claimed that Apple's response time to such 0-day vulnerability patches lags significantly behind that of Microsoft.

The study, conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, analyzed 658 vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft products and 738 affecting Apple, all of which were high and medium risk according to the National Vulnerability Database.

"Apple was below 20 [unpatched vulnerabilities at disclosure] consistently before 2005," [said researcher Stefan Frei]. "Since then, they are very often above. So if you have Apple and compare it to Microsoft, the number of unpatched vulnerabilities are higher at Apple." [...]

"We think that Apple had fewer vulnerabilities early on, and they were just surprised or not as ready or not as attentive," Frei said. "It looks like Microsoft had good relationships earlier with the security community."

Over the past few years, Microsoft has tried to cultivate a closer relationship with the security community in order to encourage researchers to give it a heads-up about software problems. Apple, however, doesn't appear to have that same sort of engagement yet, and, "based on our findings, this is hurting them," Frei said.

A spot-check of security firm Secunia's statistics show that 6% of 113 bugs found in Apple's Mac OS X operating system from 2003 to 2008 remain unpatched.

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPad Pro USB C Feature Coral

Deals: Apple's iPad Pro Reaches Up to $449 Off in Amazon's Latest Sales

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:09 am PDT by
Amazon is marking down a wide variety of 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week, with prices starting as low as $749.00 for the 11-inch tablet. You'll find the full list of sales below, all of which can be found on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
apple account card

Wallet App Now Supports Apple Account Cards on iOS 15.5

Wednesday May 25, 2022 5:01 pm PDT by
Apple appears to have recently updated the Wallet app to allow users to add an Apple Account Card, which displays the Apple credit balance associated with an Apple ID. If you receive an App Store or Apple Store gift card, for example, it is added to an Apple Account that was previously visible in the App Store and Apple Store apps. As of today, the Apple Account balance can also be added to...
Apple Tap to Pay iPhone

Apple Stores Rolling Out iPhone-to-iPhone Contactless Payments Starting Today

Wednesday May 25, 2022 6:54 am PDT by
Apple in February unveiled a new "Tap to Pay on iPhone" feature that will allow compatible iPhones to accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets, with no additional hardware required. Apple began testing the feature at its Apple Park Visitor Center earlier this month, and now Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has tweeted that the feature will begin...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...