Safari flaw worse than first thought, Microsoft warns

Microsoft is warning that a recently reported Safari browser attack can be combined with another Windows flaw to run unauthorized code

Microsoft is warning that a previously disclosed flaw in Apple's Safari browser could have dire consequences for Windows users.

The Safari bug, originally disclosed on May 15 by security researcher Nitesh Dhanjani, allows attackers to litter a victim's desktop with executable files, an attack known as "carpet bombing."

It turns out that if this flaw is exploited in combination with a second unpatched bug in Internet Explorer, attackers can run unauthorized software on a victim's computer, according to Aviv Raff, a security researcher. Raff says he originally reported the IE flaw to Microsoft more than a year ago, and then told them about how it could be combined with the carpet bombing bug just over a week ago.

IDG News Service tested Raff's demonstration attack code, which runs Windows Calculator on a victim's system. For the attack to work, a victim must first visit a maliciously crafted Web page with the Safari browser, which in turn will trigger the carpet bombing attack and exploit the IE flaw.

Both the Safari and IE bugs "are moderate vulnerabilities that, combined, produce a critical flaw, which allows remote code execution," Raff said in an instant message interview.

Microsoft is taking the issue seriously. It released a security advisory on the problem late Friday, a sign that it may be working on a patch for the IE flaw. The advisory says that the vulnerability has to do with the way Windows handles desktop executables and recommends that Windows users "restrict use of Safari as a web browser until an appropriate update is available from Microsoft and/or Apple."

The attack reportedly affects all versions of Windows XP and Vista, Microsoft said.

Apple may not be rushing out to patch this bug, however. Dhanjani says that Apple has told him that it is not treating the Safari bug as a security issue, a response that has generated criticism from the security community. Last week, for example, the consumer advocacy group Stopbadaware.org urged Apple to reconsider this stance.

According to Raff, unless Apple patches the bug, more attacks like the one he found in IE are likely to pop up. "This is not the only issue that can be combined with the Safari vulnerability," he said. "If Microsoft fixes this, Safari users will still be vulnerable."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?