Apple finally patches critical SSL flaw in OS X

Apple has released an update for OS X that, among other things, patches the infamous “gotofail” bug whose existence was publicly revealed last Friday.

The flaw was initially patched on iOS and Apple TV with updates pushed out on that same day, but OS X users were left to wonder why a fix hasn’t been provided for them as well.

The bug made the SSL implementation vulnerable and would allow an attacker with a privileged network position to intercept and/or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.

Security researchers have been calling for Apple to hurry with the fix, and have created test pages that OS X users could visit with Safari to see whether they were at risk. Firefox and Chrome use was recommended in the meantime as the bug did not affect those browsers.

It’s interesting to note that release notes for the OS X Mavericks v10.9.2 update did not mention the bug being fixed – one had to check out Apple’s security page for the new version to discover that it was (and to see what other things have been improved and patched).

Users are urged to update their systems as soon as possible but, as Andrew Cunningham noted, the over-400MB update could create problems for organizations that have to test the update before implementing it on their systems.

“A smaller standalone update that fixed only the goto fail bug would be a better fit for businesses,” he pointed out.

Unfortunately, in this case we have to take what we can get, and I don’t expect Apple to comment on or explain that particular decision.

I wonder, though, if they will eventually share how the flaw was discovered, and by whom – especially given the speculations about its nature.

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