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Month of Apple Bugs Debuts in January

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the sure-to-raise-some-eyebrows dept.

Security 171

An anonymous reader writes "A pair of security researchers has picked January 2007 as the Month of Apple Bugs, a project in which each passing day will feature a previously undocumented security hole in Apple's OS X operating system or in Apple applications that run on top of it. According to a post over at The Washington Post's Security Fix blog, the project is being put together by researchers Kevin Finisterre and the guy who ran November's Month of Kernel Bugs project." From the post: "It should be interesting to see whether Apple does anything to try and scuttle this pending project. In November, a researcher who focuses most of his attention on bugs in database giant Oracle's software announced his intention to launch a "Week of Oracle Database Bugs" project during the first week of December. The researcher abruptly canceled the project shortly after the initial announcement, without offering any explanation."

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171 comments

Some thoughts and considerations (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301326)

Brian Krebs seems to have some kind of fascination with "proving" that Mac OS X is "insecure" while simultaneously accusing Apple of using strong-arm tactics to try to silence critics. (Note: going after people for leaking confidential information is not the same as a situation in which people are making security issues known.)

Every reasonable person on the planet already knows, and has known, that every OS has bugs, vulnerabilities, and security issues, and Mac OS X is no exception. The simple, undeniable truth is that for a variety of reasons, including marketshare and the security architecture of the OS, Mac OS X is a far more secure general purpose desktop operating system for most users than any viable alternative. There is almost zero malware of any kind "in the wild", no malware with vectors for mass propagation, and little with ANY kind of propagation capability whatsoever. And contrary to popular opinion among some, Apple does indeed respond to, and fix, security vulnerabilities, including crediting the discoverer(s) when said person or entity provides Apple with enough information to verify the issue. It has continuously and consistently improved on this front, mostly as a result of working with people in the enterprise and academic communities (e.g., Apple University Executive Forum and MacEnterprise.org). There is always room for improvement, but we have seen Apple make marked progress in disclosing, accurately describing, and fixing vulnerabilities in Mac OS X. As with most commercial vendors, Apple does not comment on security issues before they are fixed. So don't expect Apple to make public statements and explanations of any kind until after a particular vulnerability is addressed.

What should be "interesting" to see isn't whether or not Apple "does anything" to "scuttle" the project; it will be whether Apple has previously had any chance to respond to any of the issues that will be disclosed. If not, this little project doesn't prove anything at all, other than that every operating system, Mac OS X included, has bugs. (Duh?) What's important is the general security architecture, practical security state-of-affairs on the platform, and how the vendor responds to issues. I'll be far more interested to see how and when Apple responds to the issues raised, and if it properly "triages" the issues and handles them accordingly (on this note, predict that people will complain Apple is taking "too long" to fix some of the issues, when in reality it is devoting programming and testing and QA resources to the issues in the order of importance and impact).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (3, Insightful)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301382)

I also think the quality of the bugs will be interesting. If all 30 bugs are show stoppers, then there are some serious underlying issues that should be addressed. If, however, they are insignificant or extremely contrived (this application can install malware if the user types in the admin password), then won't it really be an admission that the parties involved can't find critical security holes? (Not that they don't exist, its almost impossible to prove a negative in general one, and that one specifically.) It should be good for Apple regardless, in that major holes are id'd and can be fixed, or their security reputation is improved.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (4, Insightful)

Incongruity (70416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301622)

(I'm not a mac fanboy, but I play one on slashdot)

I also think the quality of the bugs will be interesting. If all 30 bugs are show stoppers, then there are some serious underlying issues that should be addressed.
And I totally agree. If there are bugs, better to have them out there and then fixed than it is to have them be obscure pieces of knowledge that a motivated few will use for their gain.

In the end, a month of OS X bugspotting can only be a good thing, IMHO.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (5, Insightful)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302354)

I don't oppose making the bugs public at all. But I do think this needs to be done in a fair manner.

Specifically:

  1. Bugs should be in Mac OS X 10.4 (or possibly 10.3).
    Pre-release software is not a fair target. It's under NDA, and is bound to have a bunch of issues. Apple has a system in place for dealing with 10.5 issues.
  2. All bugs should be reported to Apple via Radar.
    Posting without giving Apple advance notice is fine, but forcing Apple to deal with potentially thousands of reports from readers isn't.
  3. The web and Radar report should both include steps to reproduce.
    This really falls under the category of "duh." A bug report that can't be reproduced is simply not worth much (although it isn't entirely worthless).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302456)

It would be, if ever Apple actually fixed bugs. The oldest bugs I have in their bug tracking system marked as 'open' are from 2004. The latest one relates to the implementation of NSMutableArray's -sortUsingSelector: method. This is given the name of a compare method and sorts the objects in the array by calling it on pairs of objects. I took some code that used this and worked on PowerPC and compiled it for Intel. After calling this method, the results were incorrectly sorted. Calling it again, they were in a different, still unsorted, order.

I thought it must be my code, so I added a load of debugging output to my -compare: method. I found that the it was giving the correct result, and enough comparisons were performed to be able to create a sorted array. The final results, however, did not reflect this; if the comparisons said a is before b, and b is before c, the resulting array would often contain a c b.

I was going to just copy the GNUstep implementation of this method into a category and use this in my application, but when I looked at it I noticed that theirs called -sortUsingFunction:context: where the context was a the selector and the function was one that just invoked the method. I wondered if Cocoa did this too, so I tried using -sortUsingFunction:context: with a function that just called my -compare: method. And then it worked. It seems that someone wrote some 'clever' optimisations for Intel in the -sortUsingSelector: method, and broke it completely.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Incongruity (70416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302742)

It would be, if ever Apple actually fixed bugs.

Well, this sort of thing certainly wouldn't stop them from fixing bugs and it'd likely put more pressure on Apple to fix a bug or two, so I don't see how it'll end up worse for users and developers, unless Apple really doesn't care about their code quality, in which case, this'll illustrate it well enough that we'll all hear it loud and clear (assuming serious bugs are discovered in this process).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (2, Funny)

kwerle (39371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303400)

I'm thinking that you're not the only person who sorts arrays using sortUsingSelector on an intel machine.

I'm also thinking that they probably haven't done anything with that particular code in the past 8 years.

I am thinking that it is a problem with your code.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (-1, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301400)

Apple does not comment on security issues before they are fixed

Good ol' security through obscurity.

far more secure general purpose desktop operating system for most users than any viable alternative.

You are kidding, right? You limit "any viable alternative" to only Windows, and anything looks secure.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301534)

In a sense it matters nothing at all whether Apple has previously had a chance to respond. I don't think any exploit tool has a special mode where it only takes advantage of vulnerabilities if the vendor has had a reasonable time to fix them. Nobody should care about how good the vendor's excuses are about why the security holes haven't been fixed; only that they haven't.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (4, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301644)

This has nothing to do with whether or not holes will be maliciously exploited by some; of course they will be.

What matters most is how Apple responds to issues once it knows about them, whether it discovers them internally, is privately informed, or finds out via a project like this.

You can't fix a bug you don't know about, and saying Apple should somehow magically know about them all itself is disingenuous. All software will have bugs, and people other than the vendor will always discover some of them. Some of these bugs will be able to be used as avenues for exploit.

The only question is whether, as a responsible security researcher, you give the vendor a chance to respond before disclosing, or not. This has zero to with what other malicious people will do.

I understand you're probably one of those people who doesn't think there is any value at all in informing the vendor and giving them an opportunity to fix an issue before widely disclosing it, so this discussion isn't likely to get anywhere.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (-1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301780)

What matters most is how Apple responds to issues once it knows about them

So it's okay if (and I'm not suggesting this is the case) you design something with severe holes all over the place, as long as you fix them when it's brought to your attention?

You might want to tell all the "Windoze Haters" here. Apparently this is not acceptable.

I much prefer my OS vendor to be proactive, not reactive, to security.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (3, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301984)

That's insane. No software product, no matter how well intentioned the developers, will ever be completely absent of bugs come release-time. Obviously, defensive code practices and other techniques can reduce the number of bugs generated, and a well-designed architecture can minimize the impacts of bugs that *do* leak through, but no product will ever be perfect.

The "Windoze Haters" feel the way they do because, time and again, Microsoft has demonstrated that they produce software which is not only very buggy (certainly more so than their competators), but faulty by it's very design (eg, wiring IE into the OS, which made it a perfect vector for infection). Worse yet, when they release fixes, they are just as likely to introduce *new* bugs as fix the old ones, demonstrating a significant lack of competance (not to mention further calling into question the underlying architecture).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302194)

Nowhere did I ever say the code would be perfect. What I /was criticizing was the GP's attitude that it didn't matter what bugs Appple did have in OS X as long as they 'reacted' to them when announced. What I did was contrast that with the constant lambasting that MS stuff gets (indeed, legitimately, a lot of the time) - for doing that, 'reacting to security issues'. It's not acceptable for MS to do that, so why is it (as the GP said) the 'most important thing' that 'Apple does that'? That was the entirety of my point (and a little rhetorical, considering where I am).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (3, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302292)

Except that, thus far, OSX has proven itself to be far less bug-ridden, out of the box, than any MS product. If, in five years, Apple has proven to be as unreliable as MS, you can bet people will be complaining just as loudly about them.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (0)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302518)

No software product, no matter how well intentioned the developers, will ever be completely absent of bugs come release-time.

That is a ridiculous assertion. If you'd like to add something about a minimum level of complexity to that, then maybe it would be plausible, but it still wouldn't be provable. As your statement stands, though, it is completely false. There are hundreds if not thousands of simple to moderately complex software products available today that have no bugs.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302788)

Oooh, congratulations, you completely ignored the point of my argument and got me on a technicality. How very clever of you.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303556)

I'm not sure how low that "minimum level of complexity" is.


Bug report #195442

Line 6 of hello.c:
printf("Hello world!\n");
This should contain a comma between the first and second words.
Suggested fix:
printf("Hello, world!");
Thank you for reporting this bug. Your suggested change has been implemented.


Bug report #195450

Line 6 of hello.c:
printf("Hello, world!");
Printed string does not end with a newline or whitespace, making the output difficult to process. Suggested fix: Append printf("\n"); after line 6.
Thank you for reporting this bug. Your suggested change has been implemented.

And you can imagine the fun that ensues about documenting these changes.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302902)

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302658)

So it's okay if (and I'm not suggesting this is the case) you design something with severe holes all over the place, as long as you fix them when it's brought to your attention? You might want to tell all the "Windoze Haters" here. Apparently this is not acceptable.

You've presented a false dichotomy. It is unreasonable for a developer to create insecure bug ridden software, with no testing, unless it is unlikely for other reasons that that software will be compromised (only running on an internal net or something). For a consumer grade desktop, it is reasonable for a company to do a level of testing and design that keeps their product reasonably secure in the real world. Normally, this would be a non-issue, since any product that did not meet these criteria would fail in the market, but one monopoly dominates the desktop OS space and is being leveraged into the server space. In this, I don't think anyone can fault Apple as their product is very rarely compromised, as compared to the other offerings in the market. That is the first issue, dealing with bugs not known by the designers, but which perhaps should be.

The other set of bugs are bugs the vendor knows about, but does not fix anyway. Within a company it is hard to say how many of these exist, but I've been told by former employees MS fixes about half of the security bugs that are reported internally. Further, MS has a poor track record fixing bugs that are know publicly as well. Apple has a pretty good track record with public bugs (not perfect, but good) and I don't know about internal bugs.

I much prefer my OS vendor to be proactive, not reactive, to security.

I much prefer my security vendor to be both, in a balanced fashion. It is good to audit code and design securely, but it is also good to react quickly to known, public threats that probably present more risk.

Of course? (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303114)

This has nothing to do with whether or not holes will be maliciously exploited by some; of course they will be.

Of course? Why would that be?

Some holes disclosed previously have, for example, included flaws in the OS X SSH daemon. You might think that would make a great target to exploit, except that it doesn't ship enabled by default - so the universe of computers you are going to be able to reach with a remote attack is exceedingly small. Thus, even though there's an exploit you probably would not see one for that hole.

Similarly other exploits previously disclosed have been in areas you can only reach by penetrating the OS in the first place, or gaining admin access. Again this initial effort to reach that position makes writing exploits more trouble than it's worth.

So generically, you cannot say that every hole automatically leads to a malicious exploit. If that were true, there actually would be viruses and malware for OS X today.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303440)

You can't fix a bug you don't know about, and saying Apple should somehow magically know about them all itself is disingenuous.
I don't think so at all. It's an indication of the sad state things are in when security holes are accepted as inevitable. If we still have buffer overflows in the year 2006, it's because nobody has really bothered to do what's necessary to eliminate them once and for all. (Switching to a safe language like Cyclone [att.com] would fix all these, for example.) Ditto format string vulnerabilities, or integer overflows, or most of the other classes of bug that make up 90% of security holes.

I agree that it's best to give the vendor time to respond before making public that there is a security hole - assuming the vendor actually does fix it promptly. All I'm saying is that a bug is a bug, and it's not somehow less serious because of a positive attitude by Apple, or because they have improved greatly in the past couple of years, or whatever. At the end of the day, if the system is insecure then it's insecure, and if the bug found its way into released software this is a failure. With the speed at which worms can spread, you cannot rely on patching fast enough, and so what happens _after_ the bug is found is fairly unimportant. What matters is that the bug exists at all.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (2, Insightful)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301702)

What if the reason they haven't been fixed is because some asshat is waiting for a publicity stunt to reveal 30 some exploits that have been found instead of giving them the information to fix them NOW. Some how if this was any field other than computers I think people would look at this very differently: I have some information about cancer and can give a formula that almost any scientist could turn into a working cure given a reasonable amount of time, but I'm going to wait a few weeks and then release part of the information every day for a month on my website (don't forget to click the banner ads!).

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

cyngus (753668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301724)

I don't care at all about a vendor's excuses, I care about their reasons. If the reason there is a bug that hasn't been fixed is that they were working on something more important, good. Its all a matter of priorities. If there is a bug in the airport implementation that only occurs when doing something obscure like roaming across access points and transitioning from an 802.11a to an 802.11g connection while using certificate authentication, big deal that you didn't catch it. I'm glad Apple didn't waste resources trying to find it, I'm happy they spent time building ZFS drivers.

Let me know the first time you build a bug free device driver, let along an operating system and then you can open your trap.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301852)

Every reasonable person on the planet already knows, and has known, that every OS has bugs, vulnerabilities, and security issues, and Mac OS X is no exception.

What!!! But Apple's adverts told me that only PCs have bugs, while Macs are perfect... and fun, too!

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301920)

"Mac OS X is a far more secure general purpose desktop operating system for most users than any viable alternative. There is almost zero malware of any kind "in the wild", no malware with vectors for mass propagation, and little with ANY kind of propagation capability whatsoever."

Because none has been written? How many people have bothered to write something for an OS with ~ 4% of the market share when there is a whole 96% out there waiting to be owned, apparently no one. There has been one attempt at a rudimentary Trojan recently, but OS X goes largely unexploited, and for good reasons - too much work with little gain.

It doesn't help that OS X actually uses a real programming language for the OS - this for the most part helps to keep the script kiddies out.

Here is the thing - when and if, OS X gains a reasonable amount of market share, you can be sure that it, and it's users will become a target.

What I think many people do not realize is that Microsoft is now trying to deal with protecting users from themselves. This is the basis for the whole UAC framework. Most of the malware is now propagated by users themselves. For example the find a "helpful" toolbar that says: "Download this great new toolbar!" the user clicks OK and they are owned. There is NOTHING to prevent this from happening on OS X, except for the fact that no one has bothered, yet. This issue isn't so much the technology as it is user education. Don't get me wrong, Windows makes it "easier" to exploit the system once you get user consent since there is really no privilege partitioning. However it is abundantly clear from stories about computer users are at fault when they get infected. Frequently we'll hear: "I did X, Y and Z and then the computer started acting funny!" The key being that the user actually did something to cause the infection.

I think, though I have no proof, that the present Mac user base is fundamentally savvier than the average PC user. This is quite likely to change as the number of adopters of OS X increases. This is why education needs to start now - about how to "safely" use a computer. And about how no one is really "safe" if they don't know how to distinguish bad actions (downloading and running un-trusted browser components) from good actions (not clicking on the attachment that says RUN ME!). Phishing is a perfect example of users not understanding how to determine if a page is legitimate or not. This form of attack it is not relegated to any particular platform.

Choosing a fringe operating system is one way out of the trap, but as the malware writers have shown over the last 5 years, they are smart, resourceful and capable of staying ahead of the curve.

I think maybe you should reexamine the reasons for the perceived sense of security afforded by OS X. I think it has less to do with technology and more to do with smarter users and a disinterest from the people who might want to own your machine.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302488)

How many people have bothered to write something for an OS with ~ 4% of the market share when there is a whole 96% out there waiting to be owned, apparently no one. There has been one attempt at a rudimentary Trojan recently, but OS X goes largely unexploited, and for good reasons - too much work with little gain.

The same could easily have been said of Unix and VMS circa 1993, yet those platforms saw enormous and successful efforts at subversion. If the 4% Mac market includes some very profitable data -- and judging by how many security researchers use Macs, it does -- it will be targeted. Either the blackhats can in general always subvert OS X but have universally agreed not to say so, or they can on average only get into a few of the systems they try to get into. I personally feel it's more the latter, but that is just opinion.

Most of the malware is now propagated by users themselves. For example the find a "helpful" toolbar that says: "Download this great new toolbar!" the user clicks OK and they are owned. There is NOTHING to prevent this from happening on OS X, except for the fact that no one has bothered, yet. This issue isn't so much the technology as it is user education. Don't get me wrong, Windows makes it "easier" to exploit the system once you get user consent since there is really no privilege partitioning. However it is abundantly clear from stories about computer users are at fault when they get infected. Frequently we'll hear: "I did X, Y and Z and then the computer started acting funny!" The key being that the user actually did something to cause the infection.

We would need some decent statistics to assert "most", however all of the Windows users *I* have seen who have gotten hosed did the following: go onto college campus, activate wireless, get hosed by Windows virus propogating over the wireless. The Windows users among my friends and family do not execute files from the Internet, but they do view pictures and due to how Windows operates those are the same thing.

I think maybe you should reexamine the reasons for the perceived sense of security afforded by OS X. I think it has less to do with technology and more to do with smarter users and a disinterest from the people who might want to own your machine.

We sort of agree: for a serious enough attacker, *all* machines are vulnerable in some fashion exactly as all cars can be stolen. However, I disagree and think that OS X is quite more secure than Windows, possibly in the same ballpark as desktop Linux but not quite OpenBSD, and not just because the market share is lower. OS X, Linux, BSD, etc. are designed for multi-user operation and have benefitted from a long (and embarrassing) history of penetration testing going back before the Internet Worm of 1988. Even the X11 GUI has a full-featured security system in place -- nearly no one makes full use of it because the defaults are sane on modern distros.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302948)

I agree with you on almost everything - we take one thing for granted. We, as technical experts would never willingly divulge a root level password if prompted for a hard to determine reason.

Users, windows, linux, unix, bsd, what have you - if they don't know why, or don't care why they are being asked for the password, or are tricked into thinking that they are doing one task while executing another, may supply the root password to a bad program. There has already been a demo of such an exploit where a fake escalate box was displayed to an OS X user and snatched the admin password for their machine.

Kids I think are also much less aware of "bad" places and will easily follow links recieved from "trusted" sources such as IM's from friends and e-mails. This is something that I've observerd from watching younger individuals using pc's. I also consider the browser the fundamental pathway to destruction on end users systems. It is there that a program can either, exploit the host browser to gain system level access or gain the users consent to conduct priviledged activities.

One for the imagination:
Browser (Firefox for example) has a hole.
Malicious page drops an application on the file system and adds a login hook.
Application loads the next time user logs in, asks for admin privileges, use types password.
Application does bad things.

In this scenario the user would think the request for the password is associated with the action of logging in, and not due to a recent visit to a web page. No exploit is needed.

While we (computer peeps) won't reasonably allow ourselves to be compromised, self administered machines by uneducated or unknowing users will continue to be sources of compromise which is effectivly my point - mac users, especially linux users, and of course the ultra paranoid OpenBSD users know enough when something is fishy. I'm just making the point that 95% of the people out there just don't know enough to prevent getting pwnd.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302538)

Your argument has some merit, but the difference between zero wild exploits for OS X an what, 150,000 or something, for Windows would indicate there's something more going on than marketshare.

Sure, OS X gets shielded because it's not as common, but total protection? I think being built on UNIX, already having security features that MS is building into Vista, separating user accounts and root, all incoming ports closed by default and not having your web browser and mail client allowed to do whatever they want probably have a lot to do with it.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303608)

Because none has been written? How many people have bothered to write something for an OS with ~ 4% of the market share when there is a whole 96% out there waiting to be owned, apparently no one.

This is an unsupported assertion. Logically, just because there are no propagating worms does not imply that no one has tried and failed to create one.

There has been one attempt at a rudimentary Trojan recently, but OS X goes largely unexploited, and for good reasons - too much work with little gain.

If it is "too much work" then you've strongly implied that OS X is fundamentally more secure than Windows, since it is basically no work to make a Windows worm. As for the gain, some worms are still written for reasons of prestige, which the first real OS X worm would create a lot of. For financial gain, some recent worms have begun data mining and Macs have lots of valuable financial data, especially as compared to the average Windows box, many of which are pirated installs running in China or something. Finally, worm authors generally try to spread as much as possible and to new platforms. Adding another exploit to the 6 your worm uses on Windows, will hit those same vulnerable Windows boxes for little return compared to adding one that hits OS X. There have been Linux/Windows cross-platform bugs... why not OS X?

It doesn't help that OS X actually uses a real programming language for the OS - this for the most part helps to keep the script kiddies out.

This is one way, some of OS X is more secure, fundamentally, than Windows.

Here is the thing - when and if, OS X gains a reasonable amount of market share, you can be sure that it, and it's users will become a target.

OS X users are a target for worms now, just not an easy one. More people will try to exploit it as it gains market share, but not just for the reason you imply. One of the reasons OS X is not targeted as much is because malware authors have a fairly limited skill set, much of which is very Windows centric. As more malware authors become mac users, more will also target the mac, in addition to the increased number of potential victims and easier propagation.

What I think many people do not realize is that Microsoft is now trying to deal with protecting users from themselves.

This is a very counter-productive attitude for a security person. Blame is irrelevant to good security, only results matter. You can say that an infection is wholly the user's fault for running an untrusted binary. You can just as logically say the OS failed because it did not provide a good mechanism that let a user safely run an untrusted binary. Since running untrusted binaries is a huge part of what users want/need to do, I think it is unreasonable to blame them for doing this, rather I blame the OS for being designed to accommodate the wrong tasks. I'm not sold on Window's solution to this and I think it has some serious design flaws at present, but in general I think this needs to be addressed.

Most of the malware is now propagated by users themselves.

My personal data and all the presentations at security conferences I saw this year fail to support this assertion. Most malware spreads via user interaction, if you're just counting malware variants. If, however, you're looking at infections, most are the result of malware requires no action from the user. These worms spread faster and more widely than malware that relies upon user interaction.

For example the find a "helpful" toolbar that says: "Download this great new toolbar!" the user clicks OK and they are owned. There is NOTHING to prevent this from happening on OS X, except for the fact that no one has bothered, yet.

There are several things on OS X that mitigate this. First, all the holes that let a download auto execute an arbitrary binary have been quickly plugged. Second, when a user runs a binary for the first time, they are made aware that it is a program and warned and given the option to abort. This makes it harder for a trojan to hide as data. Third, by default OS X users don't have as many privileges as Windows users and there are additional hoops for malware to jump through for some activities, although not all. Fourth, the concentration of security researchers running IDS software of some sort, or closely looking at suspicious binaries is higher on OS X than Windows, thus increasing the chances and speed of new malware being discovered. Fifth, the lack of such malware to date means any such incident would quickly be major news and a greater number of users would be alerted in a timely manner and the pressure on Apple to do something would likewise be greater.

This is why education needs to start now - about how to "safely" use a computer.

I disagree. I think user education will prove largely fruitless until OS's adapt to address the security issues. OS X will be more secure than Windows in 5 years, even if its market share goes up to 20%, not because the current designs of each system are fundamentally different, but because Apple has to respond to customers and solve problems, while Microsoft will not lose any real market share because of the security issue. If you want to solve the security problems on Windows you have to start at a much more fundamental level than services, or permissions or ACLs. You have to make sure developers are motivated to fix the problem.

Phishing is a perfect example of users not understanding how to determine if a page is legitimate or not. This form of attack it is not relegated to any particular platform.

Phishing exploits deficiencies in the underlying structure of e-mail and the Web and the lack of information provided to users. Users should be using encryption keys and the like to verify Web sites and browsers should make this easy to understand and use. Some already provide this to one degree or another.

Choosing a fringe operating system is one way out of the trap, but as the malware writers have shown over the last 5 years, they are smart, resourceful and capable of staying ahead of the curve.

Malware writers have not been ahead of the curve compared to security experts and technology. They have been ahead of Microsoft, which has been way behind the rest of the industry. The best way to stop Denial of Service attacks is to make desktops reasonably secure in the first place. MS has failed to do this, but the security industry has largely worked around the issue. Most DoS and even DDoS attacks are less than successful because people are willing to pay money to stop them and ISPs and network operators blackhole most of the traffic and shut down the control networks. This is because while malware authors are motivated largely by greed so are security researchers. When security problems start costing MS money, they will fix them.

I think maybe you should reexamine the reasons for the perceived sense of security afforded by OS X. I think it has less to do with technology and more to do with smarter users and a disinterest from the people who might want to own your machine.

Apple provides a level of security that works for their customers. They have laid the groundwork for more advanced measures should the attacks against OS X escalate. The fundamental problem we face is that MS, as a monopoly, does not lose money for not giving customers what they need. My solution is the same one the US judge originally proposed. Break Microsoft up into at least two companies, each with complete rights to all Windows code to date. I guarantee a little healthy competition will mostly stop our malware problems in short order. People will start buying the OS that works for them and does not get slowed down by malware all the time, and the new Windows vendors will respond out of greed to give them the best system for their needs.

Re:Some thoughts and considerations (1)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302136)

whether Apple has previously had any chance to respond to any of the issues that will be disclosed.

No they hadn't and they won't. From the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] : "As with the kernel bugs project, Apple will be given no advance notice with the Month of Apple bugs, LMH said in an interview conducted over instant message."
Just a publicity stunt.

Shotgun + Fish + Barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302544)

OS-X is the most insecure OS this side of Lunix. Pointing out how insecure either of them is like shooting fish in a barrel.

In fact, there is probably SO many undocumented exploits... he should probably expand it to a year.

Impossible (1, Funny)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301360)

This can't possibly be true.

OS X is inherently secure. There is no possible way 31 separate security holes could exist; Darth Jobs saw to it personally.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301404)

You are correct, only 33 holes exist, all of them created by the chewbacca conspiracy. Fear my logical conclusions. UUUUUHHHHHGGGG

Re:Impossible (1)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301586)

You're forgetting; this is Slashdot.

It's Emperor Gates, Darth Ballmer, but Master Jobs, and Master Linus too, for that matter. Although I'm seeing Linus as a yoda-like guy and Jobs as definitely more of a Samuel-L kinda guy...

"I'm fuckin' tired of these motherfucking bugs in my motherfucking kernel!!"

Re:Impossible (1)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301992)

Yes, I fully realize I'm spending karma to make this joke.

I guess it just proves that Mac fanbois have no sense of humor.

(FWIW, I always saw Jobs as Palpatine in SW:TPM. Benevolent on the face, manipulative and nasty in the background. His use of Woz and little percolations on Jobs's ego makes me see this)

Re:Impossible (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302160)

No, it just proves you find humor in trolling. Randomly adding Darth to someone's last name simply isn't funny.

Darth Torvalds
Darth Bush
Darth Jobs
Darth Stallman
Darth Blair
Darth Bin Laden

It's okay to find meta-humor amusing - i.e., the fact that Apple fanboys don't find it funny -- but posting to elicit that kind of response is trolling by definition.

Now, personally, I wouldn't waste mod points modding it down anyway, but I would not m2 Unfair someone who did. My only point is this: You're not being nearly as clever as you think.

Re:Impossible (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302844)

Bill Gates: Darth Velop ("envelop")
Steve Jobs: Darth Vision ("envision")
Bin Laden: Darth Plosion ("implosion")
Bush: Darth Competent
Stallman: Darth GNU (what else?)
Linus: Come on, you can't Darth Linus.

Re:Impossible (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303316)

See, now coming up with alternate names to use... that's actually funny. I got a good chuckle out of this list. Darth GNU indeed! :)

Re:Impossible (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302264)

It's more like Ballmer the Hut. [ladyofthecake.com]

Re:Impossible (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303014)

There is no possible way 31 separate security holes could exist;
Kidding aside, I'll be impressed if he's able to locate 31 distinctly separate, true security holes in 31 days. He'll find some to be sure, but I predict he'll try to stretch some into two and others will be either "by design" or only security holes if you use the term very loosely. But we'll see.

-Kurt

A month of Apple bugs... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301362)

A week of Apple games.

Re:A month of Apple bugs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301434)

A full month of bug-chasing.

Re:A month of Apple bugs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302184)

And, somehow, that still seems prefferable to decades of both.

Hmm... (1)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301372)

[...]announced his intention to launch a "Week of Oracle Database Bugs" project during the first week of December. The researcher abruptly canceled the project shortly after the initial announcement, without offering any explanation.
This sort of thing seems like a win-win, it's like legal extortion. Either you publish your findings and get lots of attention (sell ads on your site, gain notoriety, etc) or get paid hush money by a big corporation.

Too bad MS doesn't seem to care that much about their rep, or Vista could be a goldmine!

Re:Hmm... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301564)

Too bad MS doesn't seem to care that much about their rep, or Vista could be a goldmine!
What makes you think it isn't?

Re:Hmm... (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303308)

Yeah, I personally cannot wait for the Decade of Vista Bugs!

In response to these great efforts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301406)

I will be posting his credit card numbers at a rate of one a day. I am curious to see how he responds and if he is able to patch his wallet for each.

It is not up to this schmuck to prioritize Apples develoment tasks. If something he publishs goes wild and affects my company, he will find himself in litigation.

 

Re:In response to these great efforts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301552)

You sound as self-important as he does.

Only 7? (1)

FunkeyMonk (1034108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301410)

[blockquote]Week of Oracle Database Bugs" project during the first week of December. The researcher abruptly canceled the project shortly after the initial announcement, without offering any explanation.[/blockquote]

A few years ago, I worked for a corporation to transfer their database into Oracle. Having worked on the project for nine months, I can't possibly see how anybody could have limited themselves to just 7 bugs.

But it seems the summary is surmising the researcher was paid off... I doubt Apple would succumb to such blackmail. If they can find 31 real problems in OS X, then good! Let's tighten things up!

But if it's more "proof of concept viruses" for the mac, then I'll call FUD FUD FUD.

Irresponsible (5, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301432)

I'm all in favor of taking Apple to task for failing to fix a bunch of bugs, but releasing detailed information to the public without notifying the vendor first is simply irresponsible. The only reason it's being done this way is shameless self-promotion: if Apple fixed all the bugs in advance, then they'd have nothing left to show for their month of Apple bugs, so people wouldn't freak out about it.

In short, their goal isn't really to get these bugs fixed ASAP; their goal is to spread fear and panic. If the bugs get fixed eventually, that's just icing on the cake. The problem with this is that it could cause some real problems for Mac network admins out there, many of whom don't have a lot of extra time to deal with unpatched security holes. If it was just a matter of "sticking it to Apple", that would be one thing, but this will affect a lot of innocent victims.

Yes, I'm a Mac user. No, that isn't why I feel this way; Microsoft should get advance notice too.

Re:Irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301536)

If all the bugs were fixed in advance you'd also still have fuckfaces like Gruber claiming the holes don't exist. I'm also a Mac user.

Re:Irresponsible (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301648)

No you point to the security updates. To proove there were wholes. And you tell them there is a good chance you will get more. Also if a guy is going around claim that holes don't exist. Just put him in the same group of people who beleave man didn't go to the moon, or Macro-Evolution is a myth. Fixing the bug before it is a problem is better then just trying to proove some wacko wrong.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302446)

There is still no evidence that SecureWorks' hole exists. The subsequent patches from Apple are completely unrelated to the claimed vulnerability. I'm still waiting to see what SecureWorks has; so far, it really looks like nothing.

Re:Irresponsible (1, Interesting)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301606)

He is many things, but not irresponsible.

Sure he may be doing this for self promotion, but what is wrong with using your knowledge to get some recognition? What he gets from this will be worth far more than what he would if he submitted these bugs to be fixed to Apple. Unless Apple is ready to thank he personally for all the bug fixes in a public manner and allow him to post the exploits after they were fixed, then why not?

It is not his public duty to make sure Apple's OS is safe, if anything, it is his to prove that it is not. Hell, you could say it is more irresponsible to not release them to the public than to just submit them to be fixed to Apple. If every XP exploit was sent in like that people would think/know XP was the safest thing around... either way those sys admins you spoke of still have a hard job no matter what. So they have to guard against new threats with these going public... what is new there? That is there job, to be on top of this. That is why they read /. and know where to look to see what the bugs actually end up being when released.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301722)

In my opinion, if he has already submitted the bugs to Apple (easy to do - visit bugreport.apple.com) and they haven't fixed them yet - then in my opinion, what he is doing is totally OK. If he didn't at least file a bug with Apple, while he may (or may not, IANAL), be in legal troubel, he is at the very least kind of a jerk.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301934)

Submit the bug to Apple/Microsoft wait a 2-5 days then post it publically. That way you get the best of both sides.

First you give the company a head start in fixing the security hole before a well package exploit go public.
But you get you shameless self promition of being "Mr. Uber Geek, I am smarter then you because I have more free time to do these things.".
If the patch isn't released shortly after posing people can take additonal measures to protect their system.

It is like finding a persons (lets call him John) car door is unlocked, you know whos car it is, and you yell out Hey Johns door is unlocked! If you see him tell him his door is unlocked, I think John is in the store!

vs.

Just going in the store and tell him his door is unlocked.

Re:Irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301998)

what is wrong with using your knowledge to get some recognition?
A lot of people in jail have used their knowledge for recognition. It's how you use that knowledge to gain recognition that matters.

Unless Apple is ready to thank he personally for all the bug fixes in a public manner and allow him to post the exploits after they were fixed, then why not?
Because some users don't upgrade their machines. Ya, they're stupid. So what is your point?

It is not his public duty to make sure Apple's OS is safe, if anything, it is his to prove that it is not.
So it is his public duty to prove that Apple's OS is not safe? Hasn't this fact been proven already?

The truth is that he is not adding any measurable public awareness.

This is just an exercise in his own self-promotion, and has nothing to do with advancing public knowledge of computer security.

So they have to guard against new threats with these going public... what is new there?
The difference? No patch, no recourse.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303182)

No way. If he discovered ways to bypass a security system, and knowingly gave thieves access to my property, he would be -- ethically for sure, and most likely legally -- a willful accomplice to trespass and any associated crime. Whether he's granting access to my land, my safe, a bank vault, or my computer, it's trespassing and it's a crime he participates in.

I couldn't care less what his beef is with Apple; the fact that he's distributing this information to people who would use it to commit crimes, before notifying the property owners who are their prospective victims, is abhorrent. It is nothing less than enabling and encouraging criminal acts, with malice aforethought. In our above analogy, even if the lock maker or security system vendor had ignored him in the past, that does not and cannot give him the right to aid and abet criminal acts against that company's customers.

He is many things, but not irresponsible.

Perhaps he is not irresponsible. I guess "criminal" and "despicable" would be better labels after all.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301670)

If the person who started this whole Month of Bugs is trying to remain anonymous then how can it be for self-promotion? If they're trying to spread fear it's to make the public put pressure on the vendors to fix flaws.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

n0dna (939092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301760)

First off, do you actually know that these are all 0-Day exploits and/or that Apple is unaware of them?

Second, are you claiming that Apple doesn't (and they'd be the only OS maker) have people rummaging around on the net looking for news of bugs/exploits/holes? It would seem to me that if this wiener can find the bugs, so could Apple.

It appears that this is just another attempt to show that Apple is as indifferent to fixing security holes as anybody else, but for some reason Mac users just don't seem to mind.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

Anthracks (532185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302468)

From TFA:

As with the kernel bugs project, Apple will be given no advance notice with the Month of Apple bugs, LMH said in an interview conducted over instant message.

So yeah, assuming Apple hasn't already found these bugs independently, they are 0-day and previously undisclosed.

Re:Irresponsible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17301820)

So you favour security by obscurity. Personally, I don't and this is the reason - if i'm not aware that an application or OS I administrate is currently open to remote attack, than I can't defend it against attack. If I am aware, then I can take necessary steps to hinder an attack while I wait for the patch - standard procedure. I am not for publishing full exploit script and putting attack tools on the net, but I would like to know details sufficient details to help me in security. Details like which port, what can happen, a helpful segment of code payload, etc.

Publishing data like this isn't to spread fear and panic, maybe they want to do that - i don't know, but publishing info on security risks is standard, as long as they notify the original company or programmers and give them reasonable time, than nothing is happening out of the ordinary. Is there some special reason you want Mac users to be not aware of security holes in their system and drag on the length of time they are at risk from an remote attack? If a researcher can figure out an attack, there are people out there who don't tell anyone what they have discovered except in IRC channels with bad reputations. That's why I believe security through obscurity works so well for the criminal element.

And defending network admins who leave systems unpatched....Lazy isn't a good reason for anything. patching OS's and keeping on top of what's secure and what's not is part of the job. and what's "if Apple fixed all the bugs in advance", I'm sure they tried, I'm sure people believe that phrase, but it's not reality, at all, they didn't, no OS has to date, so I find it a pretty big if...if we all used PSI powers instead of computers we also wouldn't be talking about Apple OS security....so what.

Re:Irresponsible (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301836)

I understand the point of giving the vendor the opportunity to fix it first, however, this technique does have the advantage of motivating the developer. It's a strong arm tactic, granted, but it does motivate for a rapid response. I wonder if there will be something new next month, or if we are going to see exploits/bugs that have already been documented somewhere else. If it's the latter, then Apple deserves the kick in the butt to fix whatever is broke.

On the other hand, as has been pointed out elsewhere, This gives Apple an opportunity to turn this to their advantage.

It should be an interesting month, regardless.

Re:Irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302090)

What makes you think the 'bad guys' don't know about these problems already? If one person is able to discover or gather all these problems why wouldn't someone or, even more probable, a group of people, have been able to find them also? There are people whose primary goal and/or job is find to security vulnerabilities. Releasing these problems publicly probably only causes a small pike in exploits. Most of the people with the technical knowledge to take advantage of the info would probably already have been using the exploit or would have been using some other method. The incentive to use the published security problems may actually decreased by being made public, because the hackers(crackers whatever), know the problem is likely to be patched soon. Additionally, now the administrators have been made aware of the problem and can implement temporary work-around fixes in some of the cases.

Re:Irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17303088)

It's perfectly responsible to just release the info on the bugs, I'm a Mac and Linux user, the faster the bugs are made public the faster the devs are forced to fix the probles instead of sit on them while a select few hackers that have known about these bugs the whole time get to pick apart every machine they find.

Hint to Apple PR: you can make hay from this (3, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301454)

Memo to Apple PR:
Work with this guy. Simply ensure that each bug identified is fixed ASAP, and issue a press release about it. This lets you capture and keep the high ground by showing that you care more about security and quality than the competition does. Up for it?

Just remember, where the big bad guys see "little people to be silenced," others see "opportunity."

Re:Hint to Apple PR: you can make hay from this (5, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301696)

Memo to Apple PR: Work with this guy. Simply ensure that each bug identified is fixed ASAP, and issue a press release about it. This lets you capture and keep the high ground by showing that you care more about security and quality than the competition does. Up for it?

Memo to toby: We don't negotiate with terrorists.

--Steve

Memo to Mr Underbridge (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302076)

... :-)

Re:Hint to Apple PR: you can make hay from this (4, Insightful)

tonywong (96839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301772)

That just escalates this guy's standing and position in the 'newsy' community. Why would you want to build his fame and fortune for him? You pander to his fancies of being a security guru and he will hold you hostage with a 'security review' every time he needs a PR boost.

Ignore this guy and keep doing things the way they've been done. It has been responsive and working.

Re:Hint to Apple PR: you can make hay from this (1)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302348)

Memo to toby:
I doubt the guy wants to work with anyone.
As I just quoted in another post:Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] : "As with the kernel bugs project, Apple will be given no advance notice with the Month of Apple bugs, LMH said in an interview conducted over instant message."
I guess his emphasis is on page views and ad revenue. Not making the world of computers a saver place. Hope that doesn't shatter your weltanschauung.

do they need advance notice? (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302490)

I think anything Apple says in response will have a wide audience, which means its message won't be lost. And that message could be as simple as, "We know we have bugs. Instead of pretending we don't or burying them in bureaucracy, we're going to fix whatever he finds. Keep em coming!"

Yeah, I know, I'm hopelessly naïve.

Re:do they need advance notice? (1)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302626)

Come again? Are you trolling? Do you really think releasing exploits to the public without giving the vendor advance notice isn't anything but irresponsible?

Re:do they need advance notice? (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302732)

If this guy really has 30 zero-day remote exploits for OS X, then Apple really does have a problem.

He'll be scraping the barrel to find one or two. And either way, I still think it's a PR opportunity for Apple. Or at worst, tuff love!

Re:Hint to Apple PR: you can make hay from this (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302478)

Just remember, where the big bad guys see "little people to be silenced," others see "opportunity."
Yeah — the opportunity to silence some little people, to curry favor with the big bad guys...

Test of a common theory! (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301508)

Hey! This is a unique (and for this mac user, kind of worrisome) oppourtunity to test the MS theory that realeasing this kind of information causes a prolifieration of exploits and only serve to teach people what kind of holes to look through.

If there is a sudden spike in viri and back end hacks on macs, then we'll know. The question is, will the community care either way - if it turns out that this kind of activity rapidly accelerates the spread of black-hat script idiots, will there be reprecussions, or will we fall in along the common mantra that "obsucrity is not protection" (though most snipers would disagree).

-GiH

Re:Test of a common theory! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301716)

well people like rob enderle will say see there was a 300% increase in Mac viruses just this week. of course it means it went from 1 to 4 but hey at least he would be right for once.

The fact is that *nix's dealt with mass propagating viruses and auto excuting text formats 20 years ago. They figured out how to limit their spread simply. OS X while not bullet proof or perfect has at least a solid foundation to work with. Windows including Vista has an unstable one at best. Vista's security system at least in the betas could be bypassed by changing an entry in the registry. That's secure?

Next up though will be the intelligent ans secure file system. A filesystem that deals with users and permissions on it's own. preventing access to files without authorization.

Re:Test of a common theory! (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302960)

"The fact is that *nix's dealt with mass propagating viruses
No it didn't.

"...and auto excuting text formats 20 years ago."
That's just spiffy, but auto-executing text formats are not the cause of malware propagation on Windows.

"Vista's security system at least in the betas could be bypassed by changing an entry in the registry. That's secure?"
A registry key which you would need admin access to change.

Re:Test of a common theory! (2, Insightful)

uhlume (597871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303100)

Vista's security system at least in the betas could be bypassed by changing an entry in the registry. That's secure?
...And *NIX's security system can be bypassed by chmod -R 666'ing /etc, adding all users to wheel/sudoers, and/or...well, really, any number of ways. That's secure?

Oh wait, yeah, it is.

It goes without saying that any administrator knowledgeable enough to change system settings (particularly those which aren't exposed for easy access) has the capability and the potential to change them to something stupid. So long as the defaults are sane for people who wouldn't know from a registry entry or a group file, who cares?

Next up though will be the intelligent ans secure file system. A filesystem that deals with users and permissions on it's own. preventing access to files without authorization.

Now you're just stringing words together for fun without regard to meaning. Do you have even the foggiest notion of how filesystems are actually implemented? What are you trying to describe, and how is it different from EXT3 or NTFS or any even remotely modern kernel-level filesystem?

Viri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302790)

is the latin plural of men, and your usage of it indicates that you just looove being tag-teamed by them. Shut your pie-hole, cum bucket.

Re:Test of a common theory! (1)

petard (117521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303508)

will we fall in along the common mantra that "obsucrity is not protection" (though most snipers would disagree).


The common mantra is not "obscurity is not protection". The common mantra is "Security through obscurity is really not security." You're repeating a common misunderstanding. If instead you read "Security that relies on obscurity is bad" then you have a better understanding of the criticism of security through obscurity.

In other words, obscurity may help, but it should not be the primary feature of your security plan. In fact, you should not rely on obscurity for anything important at all. Just consider yourself lucky if you benefit from it for a little while.

Also by this author... (5, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301676)

Month of Homeland Security Vulnerabilities!
The places where terrorists could to the absolute most damage if they were to strike within the next few hours!

Re:Also by this author... (1)

telbij (465356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302436)

And you thought Windows was a security nightmare. no... really.

Re:Also by this author... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302952)

In this season? The Mall of America, the King of Prussia Mall, Sawgrass Mills Mall, etc....

Actually, if the terrorists are REALLY clever, they'll take down all the jewelry stores and florist shops and stands on Christmas Eve. The damage done by the women to men who saved their gift shopping for the last minute should shut the country down for weeks (taking down the florist shops prevents effective apologies, of course).

A benefit to the Mac community, surely? (2, Interesting)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301688)

At the moment, MacOS X Hints has a couple of bugs as its first two articles. One is a flaw in Text Editor, the other a possible data loss in iWeb. A month of Apple bugs, to me, means at least 30 bugs found and fixed. Apple has a proven track record when it comes to security updates, and the Software Update function works extremely well to roll out updates with an awe-inspiring ease.

I'd like to say I'm confident they won't find thirty bugs, but that's unlikely. The important thing to focus on, however, is that a bug discovered is a bug that can be sorted. In actual fact, the 'Report bug' options in Safari and a number of other applications shows just how seriously Apple takes this. Bring it on...

Hmm, January 2007... (3, Insightful)

kiltyj (936758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301862)

Isn't something else happening in the OS world... near the end of the month, maybe?

I disapprove (4, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302122)

I have to admit I sometimes waffle on my opinion regarding disclosing to vendors first, versus disclosing to the whole world simultaneously. Both approaches have some advantage.

This approach does not.

If the goal of disclosing to the whole world is to give users a chance to defend themselves (since it is assume that black hats may already know about these holes, and may already be expoiting them) then why delay until January?! And why dole out the information one bug, one day, at a time?

By delaying, you gain the disadvantage of vendor-only disclosure: today's users aren't getting the information to at least try to protect themselves from exploits that are possible right now.

Best-case, you also may get the advantage of vendor-only disclosure. Maybe Apple has been told about these bugs and has had an opportunity to address them. But the article doesn't say that. We just don't know. So that's a best case, and the worst case is that we'll get the disadvantage of simultaneous public disclosure: the script kiddies get to start exploiting the bugs right away, while the users have to wait for a fix from a big clumsy vendor. And that's not counting the intentional delay, where people might be exploiting the bug between now and the disclosure.

This is a bad idea, no matter which camp you're in (exception: black hats).

Re:I disapprove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17303268)

"If the goal of disclosing to the whole world is to give users a chance to defend themselves (since it is assume that black hats may already know about these holes, and may already be expoiting them) then why delay until January?! And why dole out the information one bug, one day, at a time?"

The delay is to overlap with the Macworld Expo, starting January 8th. The one-day-at-a-time is to get the maximum publicity.

Re:I disapprove (3, Insightful)

MetaKey (896166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303422)

"Maybe Apple has been told about these bugs and has had an opportunity to address them. But the article doesn't say that. We just don't know."

Actually, yes, we do know.

FTFA: "As with the kernel bugs project, Apple will be given no advance notice with the Month of Apple bugs, LMH said in an interview conducted over instant message."

It's a childish and self centered move on the part of "LMH" to NOT inform the vendor. Apparently, he is more concerned about puffing himself up than with security or the well being of the computing community.

Actually, in the short term "LMH" is seriously compromising security. Ethical behavior is to open a dialog with the vendor. If the vendor does not participate in the dialog and demonstrate a good-faith effort to fix the reported vulnerabilities then make the vulnerabilities public.

But, of course, that doesn't get you your 15 minutes of fame..

Unethical (1)

polyex (736819) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302340)

Not allowing Apple or any other software developer the opportunity to protect its users from a security exploit and then posting instructions on a public website that allow someone to commit a criminal act is at a minimum unethical and may even open this character up to a lawsuit if anyone is seriously hurt financially or otherwise (remember hospitals, cancer researchers etc use computers). This behaviour shows another agenda beyond helping vendors (well perhaps helping one in particular).

Fascinating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302358)

When the "month of kernel bugs" happened, everyone criticized Linux for having so many bugs.
Now that the "month of Apple bugs" is happening, everyone is criticising the guy finding the bugs.

Re:Fascinating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17302556)

No, it's Mac fan-bois who are criticising.

Why don't software companies offer bounties? (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302426)

Why don't large software companies offer bounties to find their security flaws and disclose them in private before they become a problem? I know security companies do this sometimes, as well as underground organizations to find 0-day exploits, so why aren't the software companies themselves getting into this game? I would think that it would motivate programmers at the company in question to tighten up their code, especially if the bounty cash cuts into their results sharing.

Re:Why don't software companies offer bounties? (1)

Anthracks (532185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302558)

Some do. Mozilla [mozilla.org] , for one. I imagine there are others out there too.

bugs != insecure all the time (1)

netsfr (839855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302580)

Just wanted to point out that a bug doesn't mean any OS is insecure. It could be that a pixel is green where it should be blue... And sometimes one man's "bug" is another's "by design".

Prior Notification (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302678)

If they give the company a months notice to fix the issues then publishing them afterwards would be incentive for Apple to fix bugs there were made aware about, but failed to fix. Publishing before notifying Apple, sounds like just wanting free bragging rights.

Month of Apple Bugs (2, Funny)

wile_e8 (958263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302720)

To be followed by the Decade of Microsoft Bugs. Welcome, Vista...

Irresposible behavior for security professionals (1)

Urd (198177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302770)

There are channels and processes for dealing with security issues. Official channels and processes. Failure to use these show the clear lack of professionalism on the security workers' behalf. I would never ever work with these people or anyone who associates themselves with these practices or endorses them (including the company that may employ them). I simply wouldn't ever trust them to be either professional, knowledgeable or to actually work for me.

And I do control a rather large security related budget at a fortune 100 company. They will never get a slice of my security budget...

Month of OpenBSD bugs (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17302992)

Me, I'm waiting for him to do a month of OpenBSD bugs...

stipulated to be true (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303090)

We can accept the following as a given:
  • every system has bugs
  • Some bugs will result in the creation of security issues
  • Bugs that do not result in the creation of security issues or other user problems will be ignored
  • If an exploit does not exist in the wild, the developer will claim a fix for the bug can be deferred
  • if a developer is secretly altered of a bug, the developer will claim the fix can be deferred because the bug is secret
  • If a white hat hacker has found a bug, then someone else probably has as well
  • Just because a exploit is not known, does not mean that it does not exist and just waiting for release
  • Hackers that release bug lists are just looking for attention and friends

Given all of these varied assumption, there is no simple answer to the reporting of bugs. There is really no reason to keep the bugs secret, as that does a disservice to the customers and allows the manufacturer to postpone a fix. If the issue is serious, then it will get out anyway, and the sooner the fix the better. By making the bug public, the developer can openly discuss the issue and justify the action or inaction.

In the end the only shitty thing to do is sit on a bunch of bugs and then release then in mass. This of course is going to overwhelm the developer, and expose a bunch of issues that cannot be quickly be fixed. It is not only an attack on the developer, but an attack on the innocent users. I have no problem with hackers releasing bugs as they are found, but building up an arsenal is something that only black hats would do.

As far as if a particular OS is secure, this probably has more do with the quality of code rather than error rate. Even quality code will have errors. The difference is that quality code is written in such a way that side effects are minimized by clearly defined interfaces and domains of data. This leads to code that can be easily fixed without the problem of a change effecting many other unrelated systems. Ever since we were told that MS Windows can not function with IE or WMP, and it took 5 years to generate an upgrade, we are all very suspicious about the code quality of MS Windows.

why not EndNote? (1)

derniers (792431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17303626)

its only an application but maybe he could do EndNote in February (its the shortest month and he may need the rest of the year for Vista), he could easily find a bug a day in that most despised piece of software (which unfortunately has no substitute), I find one most every day without trying......... of course, if he called customer support to report a bug he would be put on hold for the whole month
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