Apple promises fix 'very soon' for Macs with failed encryption

Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:33pm EST
 
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By Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc said on Saturday it would issue a software update "very soon" to cut off the ability of spies and hackers to grab email, financial information and other sensitive data from Mac computers.

Confirming researchers' findings late Friday that a major security flaw in iPhones and iPads also appears in notebook and desktop machines running Mac OS X, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters: "We are aware of this issue and already have a software fix that will be released very soon."

Apple released a fix Friday afternoon for the mobile devices running iOS, and most will update automatically. Once that fix came out, experts dissected it and saw the same fundamental issue in the operating system for Apple's mainstream computers.

That started a race, as intelligence agencies and criminals will try to write programs that take advantage of the flaw on Macs before Apple pushes out the fix for them.

The flaw is so odd in retrospect that researchers faulted Apple for inadequate testing and some speculated that it had been introduced deliberately, either by a rogue engineer or a spy. Former intelligence operatives said that the best "back doors" often look like mistakes.

Muller declined to address the theories.

"It's as bad as you could imagine, that's all I can say," said Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor Matthew Green.

Adam Langley, who deals with similar programming issues as a Google engineer, wrote on his personal blog that the flaw might not have shown up without elaborate testing.   Continued...

 
A shattered large glass panel, part of Apple's cube store on Fifth Avenue, damaged from the results of the snowstorm on Tuesday is seen in New York, January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton