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Apple Issues Network Time Protocol Security Fix for OS X Users
The update appears to address a problem that was highlighted by the U.S. Government on Friday, December 19 and originally discovered by the Google Security Team. The vulnerability has the potential to allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code using the privileges of the ntpd process.
Google Security Team researchers Neel Mehta and Stephen Roettger have coordinated multiple vulnerabilities with CERT/CC concerning the Network Time Protocol (NTP). As NTP is widely used within operational Industrial Control Systems deployments, NCCIC/ICS-CERT is providing this information for US Critical Infrastructure asset owners and operators for awareness and to identify mitigations for affected devices. ICS-CERT may release updates as additional information becomes available.Apple has faced several vulnerabilities over the course of 2014, most recently releasing an OS X bash update in September to fix the “Shellshock” security flaw. Today’s security update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.
These vulnerabilities could be exploited remotely. Exploits that target these vulnerabilities are publicly available.
Products using NTP service prior to NTP–4.2.8 are affected. No specific vendor is specified because this is an open source protocol.
Update: As noted by Reuters, this update marks the first time Apple has deployed an automatic security update, which can be installed without user authorization.