Apple fixes year-old QuickTime flaw

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

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 UK 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 leveraged 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 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, for today it pegged the vulnerability as a different bug by designating it CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure) 2007-4673. It acknowledged 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 back 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 from Apple's 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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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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