Critical Vulnerability in Apple Mac OS X

Apple Releases Patch To Fix Flaw

Man using Apple laptop
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While there have always been and probably always will be debates between the Apple diehards and the Microsoft Windows users about which is a "better" operating system, what determines "better" is largely subjective and open to individual interpretation. Security and stability however is another story.

The security and stability of an operating system is more or less objective- it is either stable and secure or it is not. In this regard, even as a user of Microsoft operating systems a majority of the time, I have to concede that the Apple Mac OS X operating system tends to come out on top. Microsoft is diligently working to improve, but Mac OS X is still superior in these departments for the most part (I know there are vehement differences of opinion on both sides of the fence and fairly logical arguments can probably be made for either stance- this is just my opinion).

Microsoft used to release Security Bulletins detailing new vulnerabilities and announcing new patches on an ad hoc basis that at times was a daily occurrence. They have since moved to a monthly release date for Security Bulletins and usually have two or three new vulnerabilities and patches to announce each month. By contrast, Mac OS X flaws seem to be a rare event so when there is one it is fairly big news. Especially when it is as serious as this latest security hole.

This vulnerability, ranked as "Extremely Critical" by Secunia, could allow an attacker to execute potentially any Unix command they choose on the target system including erasing the entire home directory of the user.

The vulnerability was ranked "Extreme" for primarily two reasons. First, the flaw was proven to exist even on a Mac OS X system which was fully patched up through the recent "help" URI handler vulnerability. Second, because there are working exploits that exist for this vulnerability already.

Apple considered the flaw serious enough that they released their own bulletin, something they don't normally do, and have released a patch for the flaw as well. All Mac OS X users are advised to update their systems and apply this patch as soon as possible. For more information you can see the Mac OS X Flaws article by Antivirus Guide Mary Landesman.