Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 19 November 2010 08:17

Safari update fixes dozens of vulnerabilities


Apple has updated its Safari browser, delivering several minor improvements plus a laundry list of security fixes. Versions 4 and 5 for both Mac OS X and Windows and Safari are affected.

Apple has released Safari 5.0.3 for Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.5 Leopard, and Windows 7, Vista and XP. Tiger users haven't been overlooked - Safari 4.1.3 has also been released.

Improvements to both versions of Safari include more accurate Top Hit and Top Sites results, making sure Flash 10.1 content does not overlap other content, more reliable pop-up blocking, improved stability when typing into search and text input fields on Netflix and Facebook, and more stability when using VoiceOver.

Safari 5.0.3 also delivers improved stability when using JavaScript-intensive extensions. Extensions arrived with Safari 5.0.1.

Apple's release notes hint that there may be other minor fixes in the update (as usual).

As for the security aspects, all 27 of the addressed vulnerabilities are in WebKit, so the fixes will also avoid exploits via other applications that use the framework.

Please read on for more information about the security fixes.

Underlying issues include integer overflow/underflow, cross-origin data leaking, use after free (attempting to access memory that has been deallocated), inappropriate DNS prefetching, and invalid casts (a cast is conversion between data types, eg turning an integer into a real).

One of the more unusual fixes has been to improve the random number generator used for JavaScript. The predictability of the old generator meant sites could track particular Safari sessions without using cookies, hidden form elements, IP addresses, or other techniques, Apple officials explained.

All the security fixes appear to apply to Safari 4 and 5 on Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Windows 7, Vista and XP.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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