Apple releases Leopard 10.5.2, patches 10 bugs

Fixes Safari, Mail, Open Directory and more; finally releases second Leopard update

Apple on Monday issued its first security update for the year, patching at least 10 vulnerabilities in Mac OS X as it also upgraded Leopard to Version 10.5.2 after weeks of speculation on its release date.

The 10 fixes -- the tally may be more, since one of the items claimed multiple vulnerabilities were under its umbrella -- were a far cry from Apple's last update, a December 2007 monster that patched 42 bugs.

As is the norm for Apple's security fixes, Security Update 2008-001 plugged holes in Apple's own software as well as flaws in some of the open-source components integrated with Tiger and Leopard. Among the open-source parts patched today were Samba, a file- and print-sharing application, and X11, the Apple version of the X Window System.

Apple pegged seven of the 10 vulnerabilities as capable of "arbitrary code execution," which is the company's phrasing for a bug whose exploit could insert malicious code on a Mac or allow the attacker to hijack the machine. Apple does not rank its software flaws, but other vendors, such as Microsoft Corp., usually label such vulnerabilities as "critical."

Besides the one patch for Samba and two for X11, today's security update quashed bugs in Directory Services, Launch Services, Mail, Open Directory, Parental Controls and Terminal. Other fixes targeted a vulnerability in NFS (Network File System) -- a Sun/IBM protocol that harks back to 1984, and patched Safari, Apple's homegrown Web browser.

The Safari flaw, said Apple, exists only in the version packaged with Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5.x. It is in the browser's handling of URLs. "By enticing a user to access a maliciously crafted URL, an attacker may cause an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution," said the advisory. "This update addresses the issue by performing additional validation of URLs."

The security update can be downloaded manually from the Apple site, or retrieved and installed using Mac OS X's integrated update feature.

Apple also released Mac OS 10.5.2 today. It's second update to Leopard since that operating system's debut in October 2007. Reports of its imminent appearance have been making the rounds on the Web for several weeks, most notably about three weeks ago.

The patches pertinent to Leopard have been rolled into the 10.5.2 upgrade.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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