Apple releases another AirPort 'update'

Update raises suspicions of security issues in AirPort

Apple has produced another "update" for its AirPort wireless networking system, claiming it improves compatibility between its laptops.

However, the minimal one-line explanation for the update has raised suspicions that Apple is again being less-than-honest about security issues in AirPort.

Controversy has surrounded the wireless system since two security researchers claimed in August that they had discovered a vulnerability in the laptop's wireless software driver that would allow someone to take control of the machine.

Apple's responded aggressively stating that the researchers were mistaken, stressing that the researchers had used a third-party wireless driver rather than the one that ships with the MacBook.

However, eyebrows were raised when just a month later Apple released patches for critical holes in the very drivers the researchers had focussed on. Apple claimed that the two incidents were unrelated and that it had found the holes itself -- something that received a sceptical response.

Those unusual series of events, led to more security researchers stating their intention to test for more holes in Apple's wireless system. A critical security hole was swiftly found and a month later was again patched by Apple.

The result has been a high degree of scepticism in Apple's security pronouncements, something that the computing company has a long and murky history with.

That Apple has released another update for AirPort, reportedly to "improves compatibility" but without outlining what, if any, compatibility issues there were, or even why improved compatibility between MacBooks and MacBook Pros was deemed important enough to issue an update, is unlikely to strengthen people's confidence in the company's security record.

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Kieren McCarthy

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