Apple patches 25 Mac OS X bugs

Among them: Another three holes disclosed by 'Month of Apple Bugs'

Apple Inc. today issued its fourth major security update of the year to fix 25 vulnerabilities, a dozen of which are critical flaws that can be exploited by remote attackers.

As was the case last month, some of the fixes patch bugs first made public during the Month of Apple Bugs (MoAB) project in January. Three of the 25 patches address zero-day vulnerabilities rolled out by MoAB, including one that a MoAB co-host said was the most dangerous flaw left unpatched. Kevin Finisterre on March 14 called it "one of the blatant, easy local root exploits that still exists in System Preferences."

Apple has already patched other MoAB vulnerabilities, as well as flaws disclosed by the similar Month of Kernel Bugs in November 2006.

Security Update 2007-004 features 12 fixes that Apple said could lead to "arbitrary code execution," the phrase security researchers usually equate with the most critical kinds of flaws because they could theoretically lead to a complete compromise of the computer. By tradition, Apple does not rank fixes, as do vendors such as Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.

As usual, the update fixes both Apple-designed Mac OS X components and bits developed by third parties. The Kerberos network authentication technology, which was created at MIT, for example, was patched against a trio of bugs.

Other patches address issues in AirPort, Apple's wireless technology; the operating system's Help Viewer; its installation software; and iChat, the bundled videoconferencing and instant messaging software.

One of the most serious bugs is in the open-source "Libinfo" code library used by Mac OS X. In the accompanying advisory, Apple said, "By enticing a user to visit a maliciously crafted Web page, an attacker can cause a previously deallocated object to be accessed, which may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution." Web sites hosting malicious code, including exploits against patched and unpatched vulnerabilities, are common threats to Windows users. Even though malicious sites targeting Macs are rare by comparison, the infection vector -- typically a spammed e-mail containing a link to the site -- is effective.

Today's security update was Apple's ninth this year; the company's year-to-date patch total now stands at 91. Last month, Apple's 2007-003 update contained fixes for 45 flaws.

The security update can be downloaded manually from the Apple Web site or retrieved using Mac OS X's built-in update service.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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