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Apple fixes year-old QuickTime flaw

Takes second hack at Windows-only bug after researcher blows the whistle

October 3, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple updated the Windows version of QuickTime today to quash a 13-month-old bug that critics say it overlooked when it patched the media player in March.

The update fixes a flaw in QuickTime for Windows XP and Vista first reported in September 2006 by U.K. researcher Petko Petkov. Last month, Petkov posted proof-of-concept code for the vulnerability after claiming Apple had not acknowledged his messages. Several samples posted to the Web took advantage of both the QuickTime bug and one in the open-source Firefox browser to create a drive-by attack capable of invisibly hijacking a PC.

Mozilla Corp. patched Firefox six days later. Although Mozilla's chief of security, Window Snyder, admitted her group had overlooked the flaw when it crafted a July fix for a similar problem, she also took a shot at Apple. "This QuickTime issue appears to be the one described by CVE-2006-4965, but the fix Apple applied in QuickTime 7.1.5 does not prevent this version of the problem," Snyder said in September.

Apple disagreed with that assessment; today it pegged the vulnerability as a different bug by designating it CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure) 2007-4673. It did acknowledge the bug, however. "A command injection issue exists in QuickTime's handling of URLs in the 'qtnext' field in QTL files," read its advisory. "By enticing a user to open a specially crafted QTL file, an attacker may cause an application to be launched with controlled command line arguments, which may lead to arbitrary code execution."

According to Apple, the vulnerability does not exist in the Mac OS X version of QuickTime.

Apple first took a swing at the flaw in March, two months after researcher Avi Raff expanded on Petkov's work to create an exploit as part of January's "Month of Apple Bugs" project.

The patched QuickTime can be downloaded at Apple's Web site, or by using the optional Software Update utility packaged with the Windows versions of the player and Apple's iTunes music store. It is approximately 7MB in size and requires a restart of Windows.

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