Apple has issued three batches of software updates and fixes for its popular iPhone, Mac OS X operating system and the Safari 3.03 browser beta.
The iPhone fixes address a pair of Safari-related vulnerabilities that came up almost immediately after the phone's release, plus three more that were not disclosed.
A security firm called Independent Security Experts (ISE) first uncovered iPhone vulnerabilities last month and informed Apple (Quote) of its findings. ISE planned to demonstrate what it found at the Black Hat security conference this week in Las Vegas.
Apple credited the ISE crew for pointing out a heap buffer overflow problem in the Perl Compatible Regular Expressions (PCRE) library, while Apple thanked Tomohito Yoshino, of Business Architects, for reporting an error in the International Domain Name (IDN) that allows for fake URL addresses in fonts that contain look-alike characters.
Finally, Apple credited Rhys Kidd for reporting a remote code execution flaw that allows an invalid type conversion when rendering frame sets could lead to memory corruption.
The update is only available through iTunes and will not appear in a Macintosh Software Update application or in the Apple Downloads site. Amol Sarwate, research manager at vulnerability management company Qualys, said that's the nature of embedded devices.
This is a common issue for any embedded device that runs off-the-shelf browsers. "Unfortunately, because of the way they are architected, that's currently the only way to update the devices," he explained.
For security and bandwidth reasons, fixes and updates are not sent down over the network. Rather, the device must be connected to a computer and the patches downloaded to a PC or Macintosh. GPS devices, for example, have to be updated the same way.
Because of this, Sarwate said that people he knows at the Black Hat conference have their iPhones off, because if there's any place where people are liable to monkey with security problems it will be at the Black Hat gathering.
While he hasn't dug into the fixes, Sarwate said it looks like everything is covered.
"Before, we knew of two vulnerabilities, and they fixed five. I'm impressed with Apple to turn it around this quickly. If you think of the time needed to write the code and test it properly they did a good job turning it around in this short amount of time," he said