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Apple Aren't Patching?

An article in Arstechnica highlights how slow Apple can be when patching security flaws.

Although Apple didn't make a big deal about it, one of the security fixes included in the recent iPhone/iPod touch 2.0 firmware is a fix for a fairly high-profile WebKit bug that was used to hack a MacBook Air back in March. People immediately began asking why the bug took so long to fix on the iPhone. Now, the researcher who discovered it, Charlie Miller, has called Apple out over its iPhone patching practices in a recent Computerworld piece, saying that the company "messed up."

When the bug was originally disclosed to Apple, the company asked Miller if Mobile Safari was also affected, and he suggested that it probably was. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to confirm his assertion at the time, and left it up to Apple (which had all of the details) to test the exploit on the iPhone itself. It turned out that the exploit code needed to be tweaked slightly to do anything malicious on an iPhone, but Apple apparently closed the case after the OS X exploit failed to do anything nasty.

Further research revealed that if the actual JavaScript regular expression exploit code was run, bad things would still happen. Apple seemed to have corrected the bug pretty quickly after that. However, the mere fact that it took Apple so long to patch an iPhone WebKit bug has brought up the question: how well will Apple be able to manage two OS versions? Miller has pointed out that most WebKit bugs found on OS X will also occur on the iPhone and iPod touch, so Apple could theoretically patch both at the same time. Whether that will ever actually happen remains to be seen.

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