Warnings sounded over serious Apple flaws

Security company, EEye has warned of two serious bugs in Apple media software, putting both Windows and Mac OS X systems at risk.

The new reports follow a string of security warnings this year that threaten to end the widespread perception that Apple's software is relatively secure.

EEye last week reported two separate flaws affecting QuickTime and iTunes, both allowing attackers to potentially execute malicious code on a system.

Both affect Mac OS X as well as Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003, according to eEye, and both are rated as "high" severity. One flaw is the result of a heap overflow, and the other is caused by an integer overflow.

The company added both bugs to its roster of upcoming advisories, which alert users to flaws that have been discovered but not yet patched or publicly disclosed. EEye doesn't give details on such flaws, in order to allow users time to react and software vendors time to issue patches.

The oldest vulnerability on the list is currently a bug affecting Windows that was reported 153 days ago and hasn't yet been patched, eEye said.

Since the beginning of this year, Mac users have begun to experience a taste of the paranoia that has long afflicted Windows users. Recently, two viruses appeared targeting the OS X platform in the space of a week.

These were shortly followed by the public disclosure of code exploiting a severe OS X bug that could allow the Safari web browser to automatically execute malicious code on a system if users view a specially crafted site. The bug also affected OS X's built-in Mail e-mail client.

Antivirus vendors, who have long had difficulty selling their products to Mac users, have said attackers' new interest on the Mac is partly spurred by Apple's switch to the Intel platform. "It shows increased activity and viability for future Macintosh-based threats on the Mac OS X platform," said Ken Dunham, director of the rapid response team at iDefense, a Versign company, in a recent interview.

He pointing out that the last major Macintosh threat was the Autostart worm in 1998. "As a result, many Macintosh users are more likely to be complacent toward computer security and therefore are more likely to be vulnerable to any future threats that emerge against the Macintosh operating system," he said.

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Matthew Broersma

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