Apple rapped for Safari download policy

News by Richard Thurston

The Mac maker and creator of the popular web browser has come under fire from a leading security researcher for the ease at which users can download malicious software from the web, but it seems reluctant to change its mind

Apple could be putting users at risk of downloading malicious code from the web, according to a leading security researcher and author.

Nitesh Dhanjani said he is concerned that Apple's Safari browser downloads content from the web without seeking users' permission. Other popular browsers, like Internet Explorer and Firefox, ask users by default if they would like to download the software in question.

"The implication of this is obvious: malware downloaded to the user's desktop without the user's consent," said Dhanjani, writing in his blog on the website of global publisher O'Reilly.

Dhanjani, who works full-time for Ernst & Young's application security services division, said he had approached Apple about the issue, which remained uncommitted to changing the situation.

"We are not treating this as a security issue. We can file that as an enhancement request for the Safari team," Apple told Dhanjani.

The Mac maker added: "We want to set your expectations that this could take quite a while, if it ever gets incorporated."

Dhanjani added that he had found a separate high risk vulnerability affecting Safari. He said that flaw could lead to hackers remotely stealing files from the victim's hard drive. Dhanjani said Apple told him it was working to resolve the issue and develop a patch.

Apple could offer no further comment at the time of writing.

Separately, an Israeli security researcher has found a zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Aviv Raff said the flaw, which he found in a printing function, could allow an attacker to launch arbitrary code on the victim's machine if the victim visited a malicious website.

Microsoft argued that the flaw was not a major threat despite the exploit code being publicly available, and added that it would be "likely" to deliver a patch. The flaw affects versions 7 and 8 of the software running on Windows XP, the latter version of which is currently in beta.

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