Apple dismisses Safari download issue

Apple does not consider an exploit that uses Safari's download mechanism to automatically download files onto a user's system to be a security vulnerability

A security researcher has published a demonstration exploit that takes advantage of the download mechanism in Apple's Safari browser to automatically download files onto a user's system.

Nevertheless, Apple said it does not consider the issue a security vulnerability, according to Nitesh Dhanjani, a researcher who currently leads application security efforts at professional services company Ernst & Young.

Enterprises have begun paying closer attention to Safari in recent weeks because of a rise in the browser's market share on Windows. Safari is the built-in browser on Mac OS X.

The problem arises "because the Safari browser cannot be configured to obtain the user's permission before it downloads a resource," Dhanjani said in a recent blog post.

He published a sample cgi script that automatically downloads large numbers of files to Safari's default download directory. "The implication of this is obvious: Malware downloaded to the user's desktop without the user's consent," Dhanjani said.

Apple told Dhanjani it did not consider the issue a security problem, but would consider the ability to warn before downloading content as a feature enhancement.

"Please note that we are not treating this as a security issue, but a further measure to raise the bar against unwanted downloads," Apple said in an email quoted by Dhanjani. "This will require a review with the Human Interface team. We want to set your expectations that this could take quite a while, if it ever gets incorporated."

A second problem is that Safari doesn't warn when local resources such as HTML files attempt to invoke client-side scripting, which could be a problem in part because Internet Explorer does warn in such cases, Dhanjani said.

"I feel this is an important security feature because of user expectations: even the most sophisticated users differentiate between the risk of clicking on an executable they have downloaded (risk perceived to be higher) to clicking on a HTML file they have downloaded (risk perceived to be lower)," he wrote.

Apple responded to Dhanjani that it would investigate the matter as a security hardening measure but that it would take "a fairly deep investigation to address compatibility issues."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?