Security Update

Short and sweet:

Apple today released Security Update 2004-06-07 (for both 10.3.4 and 10.2.8). The easiest way to install it is via Software Update. Judging by the changes documented in the release notes, this update closes all the URI/Launch Services-related vulnerabilities that have been publicized in the last month. I’ve tested the update on three Macs, and indeed, it closes every vulnerability I’m aware of.

This is excellent news.

Even better, the release notes contain useful descriptions of the updated components and the vulnerabilities that have been closed. It’s not just better-documented than usual, it’s just flat-out well-documented. Read both of the above-linked documents, and you’ll know everything you need to know about the update. Documentation like this is exactly what I wished for in “Security Cannot Be Spun”.

The gist of Apple’s solution is that when Launch Services attempts to automatically launch an app that you’ve never before manually launched, it presents a confirmation dialog before launching the app. This solves the vulnerability where unknown apps could be launched automatically, and does so without removing any functionality.

I’ve updated my page of instructions for dealing with these vulnerabilities; the short version is that you simply need to update to the latest version of Panther or Jaguar (10.3.4 or 10.2.8), and then install all recent security updates.

If you previously used RCDefaultApp or More Internet to disable vulnerable URI protocols, you can re-enable them if you want. Note, however, that Security Update 2004-06-07 removes the ‘disk’ and ‘disks’ protocols from your Launch Services database. These protocols simply no longer exist. In addition, DiskImageMounter has been modified such that it will no longer mount volumes via these protocols, even if you were to re-enable them (the protocols).

If you want to turn Safari’s “Open ‘safe’ files” preference back on, it’s probably safe. I.e., there are no known remaining vulnerabilities you’d be exposed to. However, I think one of the lessons of this saga has been that it’s unwise to think there exists such a thing as a “safe file” that can be opened automatically after it’s been downloaded. In the spirit of “better safe than sorry”, I’m leaving this preference off.