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Security Businesses Apple

A Little .Mac Security Flaw 328

Posted by kdawson
from the case-for-thumb-drives dept.
deleuth writes "The de facto online connectivity software sold along with many Apple computers, .Mac, has a Web interface through which users can check their 'iDisk' while away from their own computer. However, there is no Log-Out button in this Web interface, so most users just close the browser and walk away... not realizing that their iDisk has been cached by the browser and that anyone who wants to can open up the browser, go back to the link in History, and get into their iDisk completely logged in. From here, files can be downloaded and/or deleted. This seems like a minor security flaw via bad interface design, and podcaster Klaatu (of thebadapples.info) posted this on the discussion.apple.com site, only to have his post removed by Apple. Furthermore, feedback at apple.com/feedback has gone unanswered. The problem remains: there is no way for the average computer user to log-out of their iDisk on public computers. A quick review of any public terminal's browser history could bring up all kinds of interesting things."
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A Little .Mac Security Flaw

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  • Apple's response? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFAK (524350) * on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:17AM (#21715224)
    Am I the only one that notices that Apple's response to every problem is a swift "let's delete this topic and pretend the problem doesn't exist"? .. Seems like bad business practise to me.
    • by mboverload (657893) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:20AM (#21715240) Journal
      > Am I the only one that notices that Apple's response to every problem is a swift "let's delete this topic and pretend the problem doesn't exist"? .. Seems like bad business practise to me.

      0H N0ES U DIDNT APPLE IS TEH PERFECT
      • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:23AM (#21715478) Homepage

        0H N0ES U DIDNT APPLE IS TEH PERFECT

        Indeed; I'm somewhat amused that this is described as a "minor" security flaw in the summary and blamed on the user interface. If it was a Microsoft web site it would be described as a major flaw and the foaming at the mouth would begin. Nor is it a user interface problem; by using session cookies closing the browser would logout the user, with or without a logout button.

        The site listed (but not linked [thebadapples.info]) in the summary doesn't describe the issue as minor, or a UI problem, so one can only assume that description comes from the summary author.

        • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:32AM (#21715710)

          Indeed; I'm somewhat amused that this is described as a "minor" security flaw in the summary and blamed on the user interface. If it was a Microsoft web site it would be described as a major flaw and the foaming at the mouth would begin.
          Macs make up about 3% of the computer using population. This means all flaws are minor.

           
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by kestasjk (933987)
            But that 3% is the most important group; the 3% containing Einstein and Picasso and Vivaldi, Mac evangelists one and all.

            Basically if you see Einstein, Picasso, or Vivaldi, or even Gauss or Heisenberg, using a public computer then Apple will treat this vulnerability as serious.
            Last I checked scientists, power-managers and artists don't use computers other than their own, so why should Apple care about this "vulnerability"?
          • Funny...unless you're a Mac user. I notice that Mac "hey, it's cool and 'just works'(TM)" users are less used to managing security issues, hence less able. So, bad news.
          • by jackpot777 (1159971) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @10:06AM (#21716516)
            Macs use computers?

            And I thought it was over 5 percent now [macnn.com]...

            Here's the thing. The only people that have to be worried are Mac users with a dot-mac account. I have an iMac but I wouldn't dream of getting .mac account. Seeing as it costs $99.95 for a year's membership [apple.com], and for that you get:

            a place to share photos online (which I do for free with Photobucket)

            your own personal web-space (which for personal use, Blogger does the job just fine for me)

            email access anywhere, even on an iPhone (but the iPhone shows your regular ISP email anyway, which is set up the first time you plug your iPhone into your Mac thanks to the settings in the Mail program, and GMail is accessed anywhere with internet connectivity too)

            remote access to your Mac (which I personally have never needed)

            the ability to sync your favourite stuff to the computer you're using (my iGoogle page shows me all the stuff I usually bookmark on any computer I decide to log into Google ...and after that, I have the URLs in my head or I can search for the stuff I want, or just send the URLs in an email to my GMail account, stick a star on the email and sort by stars to find it quickly)

            10GB of storage online for files (XDrive gives 5GB away for free, eSnips gies 5GB away for free, my photos on Photobucket, my videos that I want people to see on YouTube...) .Mac Groups (there are enough free options out there for whatever group I want to start or join ...Google Groups, browsing the old Usenet newsgroups using Thunderbird, etc.)

            Online backup if I don't have OS X 10.5 Leopard (or I can just buy Leopard and get all the new-fangled doohickeys too)...


            What's the point? It's the equivalent of when people had CompuServe in the early-to-mid 90s. They'd pay through the nose to use a proprietary web browser and get access to groups that only other CIS users could use. It's the internet for people that don't know what's out there for nowt, a gated net community.

            • by stuboogie (900470) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @12:27PM (#21717466)
              "What's the point? It's the equivalent of when people had CompuServe in the early-to-mid 90s. They'd pay through the nose to use a proprietary web browser and get access to groups that only other CIS users could use. It's the internet for people that don't know what's out there for nowt, a gated net community."

              hmmm...sounds familiar...what was the name of that?

              Ah, Oh weLl.

              I can't remember right now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Malevolyn (776946)
          As a player for both all three teams (so to speak) I'd have to say the article title is a bit sarcastic. I'm sure most people can agree that one of the differences between Apple and Microsoft is in how seriously they take themselves. Users tend to follow suit, which leads to sarcastic article title for what is very obviously a very large security flaw; in contrast, Microsoft articles lean more towards the more professional side.
      • If it was Microsoft deleting posts which they didn't like the blogers would be frothing at the mouth and looking for ankles to bite.

        Apple, which has a long history of this, seems to go unnoticed.

    • by numbsafari (139135) <swilson.bsd4us@org> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:34AM (#21715286)
      I am an new Apple user. And reasonably happy.

      However, there is one thing that I am very troubled by and it is simply this: Apple apparent arrogance and ignorance when it comes to security.

      Apple has enjoyed a "blanket" of security because it is low profile and a niche. However, as its market share and mind share expands, this period of respite will soon fade.

      You would think that, during this time, Apple would have used the opportunity to develop and internal culture, policies and procedures, as well as infrastructure for dealing effectively with security issues. However, the complete opposite appears to be the case.

      Apple has failed miserably to publicly and actively address such issues. It also fails to respond in anything that could be called a rapid manner to reports of exploitable security holes. Taking actions such as deleting posts that point out security problems makes the situation worse, not better. Failing to publicly document the existence, status and nature of defects makes the situation worse, not better. Being secretive makes the situation worse, not better.

      Apple makes decent hardware. Leopard is very nice to use, though far from perfect. The whole ecosystem and vertical integration is nice. However, the whole thing could come crashing down because of a serious security flaw. If people think Microsoft is susceptible to such a scenario, the Apple empire is even more so.

      It's not a question of if, but when. Will Apple be prepared? So far, all signs point to "NO".

      PS... the CAPTCHA word for this post was "condom".. how appropriate considering the whole point is to have a good profolactic. A good metaphore for Apple's current approach to security.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by noewun (591275)

        You would think that, during this time, Apple would have used the opportunity to develop and internal culture, policies and procedures, as well as infrastructure for dealing effectively with security issues. However, the complete opposite appears to be the case. Apple has failed miserably to publicly and actively address such issues. It also fails to respond in anything that could be called a rapid manner to reports of exploitable security holes.

        I see no proof of this. Apple responds relatively quickly to

        • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:15AM (#21715444) Homepage
          Huh? You seem to have conflated their corporate policy, which is sometimes very stupid, with their security policy, which is generally good. The two have nothing to do with each other. Apple's overzealous moderation of their own forums is well known, and unfortunate. But it has nothing to do with how well they manage their OS security and how well they respond to exploits.

          You are very mistaken, this incident does prove that Apple's security policies and responses are indeed lacking. Don't get fixated on the deletion of a post, consider that they did not respond by adding a logout option to a *web* interface.
          • by Trillan (597339) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:22AM (#21715472) Homepage Journal
            You realize that the post was probably deleted by someone in poorly-trained low level support monkeys, right?

            Apple has a bug reporting system and an email for security issues. Use them, not the forums, if you want to make sure the post is actually evaluated by someone with understanding of... well, anything technical.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              If you have an ADC account (it's free) you can submit via bugreport.apple.com

              Feedback never gets a response from what I have heard, but is listened to. Look at the new feature in the latest Garageband update for example.

              As for the forums, they say quite clearly they are for user to user technical support, not discussion of policies.
              • by wish bot (265150) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @07:57AM (#21716052)
                The few times I have submitted comments/bugs to the ADC bugreport email address, I've always received an answer back (even if it's "we're working on it"). The first time it happened I was completely shocked - it was a real email written by a real person with a real answer. Brilliant.
                • by solitas (916005) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @09:38AM (#21716424)
                  I've used the same email address too - and while I haven't received a personal response I have a vouched-for 'friend of a friend' who works there and she _was_ able to check it out and found that my email _was_ read and considered.

                  Her response _also_ repeated the point that Apple (quite naturally) prefers receiving bugreports through the proper (secure) channels and not having to cull them from unrestricted forum postings.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by NtroP (649992)

                  The few times I have submitted comments/bugs to the ADC bugreport email address, I've always received an answer back (even if it's "we're working on it"). The first time it happened I was completely shocked - it was a real email written by a real person with a real answer. Brilliant.

                  This has been my experience as well. I've submitted several bugs. The first one was responded to by the next day and that was to ask for more information. It was followed up after a couple of days with a patch emailed to me. They asked me to test it to see if it fixed the issue - it did and was included in the next roll-up patch. The others received answers along the lines of "Thanks, someone else has already reported this, we are working on it, if you have any new information please reference xyz ti

            • Good lord, what kind of a dresscode do they enforce at Apple?
          • by noewun (591275) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:40AM (#21715556) Journal

            You are very mistaken, this incident does prove that Apple's security policies and responses are indeed lacking. Don't get fixated on the deletion of a post, consider that they did not respond by adding a logout option to a *web* interface.

            How? What is the causal connection? Unless you have specific information about Apple's internal organization, and the relationship between the people who admin their forums and the people who work on OS security, the only connection is the one in your mind. Apple is not a monolithic entity with the ever-vigilant head of Steve Jobs on constant watch. It's a large corporation with multiple divisions, each of which has their regions of control and expertise. The decision to nuke posts about a security flaw, while stupid and short-sighted, does not immediately mean that Apple's OS security people are lax or lazy. They may be working on a fix already. They may not. They may roll it out in a week. They may not. And an article may appear tomorrow which proves that this security "flaw" was vastly overrated and is not that serious.

            If you wanted to critique Apple's security prowess you could compile a list of known security flaws, with their severity and a list of how long it took Apple to patch them. That would be a logically constructed argument. However, this is Slashdot, so I won't hold my breath. This is the same lax "logic" which leads to a lot of the Microsoft bashing around here, and it looks stupid no matter which way it's pointed.

            • How? What is the causal connection? Unless you have specific information about Apple's internal organization, and the relationship between the people who admin their forums and the people who work on OS security, the only connection is the one in your mind.

              You claim that what forum admins do is unrelated to security. That is mistaken. Either a forum admin failed to report a security issue or they forum admin reported it and no one felt the need to update a *web interface* in a timely manner. Either scen
              • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @11:55AM (#21717248) Homepage

                You claim that what forum admins do is unrelated to security. That is mistaken. Either a forum admin failed to report a security issue or they forum admin reported it and no one felt the need to update a *web interface* in a timely manner. Either scenario indicates that something is lacking at Apple.


                Or it indicates that user forums are not the place to report security flaws, and that user forum administrators are in no way able to evaluate what is a stupid user error vs what is an actual security issue across the hundreds of different hardware and software combinations Apple offers. If you think every forum post should simply be echoed to the bug tracker, that's your prerogative, but it seems to be a great way to waste a lot of the qualified bug-squashers' time.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Tim C (15259)

              The decision to nuke posts about a security flaw, while stupid and short-sighted, does not immediately mean that Apple's OS security people are lax or lazy.
              No - but not putting a log out button on a protected web resource does mean that they are either lax or lazy. I have no particular antipathy towards Apple, but that's just plain dumb. Even if the flaw isn't serious it certainly *looks* bad, and violates established practice for web applications.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kelleher (29528)

              Apple is not a monolithic entity with the ever-vigilant head of Steve Jobs on constant watch. It's a large corporation with multiple divisions, each of which has their regions of control and expertise. The decision to nuke posts about a security flaw, while stupid and short-sighted, does not immediately mean that Apple's OS security people are lax or lazy.

              Wrong - it means exactly that.

              If their security folks weren't lax and/or lazy there would be a well known and well understood process within Apple for all the divisions to follow when a possibly security flaw was reported. The process should include tracking, reporting, and escalation procedures to ensure that big things don't get categorized as small things and overlooked.

              • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @11:47AM (#21717196) Homepage

                If their security folks weren't lax and/or lazy there would be a well known and well understood process within Apple for all the divisions to follow when a possibly security flaw was reported. The process should include tracking, reporting, and escalation procedures to ensure that big things don't get categorized as small things and overlooked.


                There is a well known and well understood process, it's called bugreporter.apple.com. The process does include tracking, reporting, and escalation procedures to ensure that big things don't get categorized as small things and overlooked.

                What you're complaining about is that random forum administrators don't have the responsibility, time or technical ability to personally evaluate every forum post for whether it contains a bug or a security flaw as opposed to a stupid user error.
        • "I see no proof of this. Apple responds relatively quickly to security holes and releases regular patches and updates."

          To be fair, this is so silly that it should never have been a security problem. This shouldn't be measured by how quick they fix it, but rather how long they let it last.

          "Apple's overzealous moderation of their own forums is well known, and unfortunate. But it has nothing to do with how well they manage their OS security and how well they respond to exploits."

          I don't think you entirely got
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mr100percent (57156)
        I disagree, Apple has responded quite well, building in access control systems, program app exceutable digital signing, sandboxes, Address Space Randomization, Input Manager Restrictions, Filevault encryption, etc.

        Apple hasn't experienced a real virus outbreak, but they thought ahead to implement these features before anything has happened. They beat Microsoft in many of these areas.
      • by Auckerman (223266) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @06:22AM (#21715676)
        Apple has enjoyed a "blanket" of security because it is low profile and a niche. However, as its market share and mind share expands, this period of respite will soon fade.

        You would think that, during this time, Apple would have used the opportunity to develop and internal culture, policies and procedures, as well as infrastructure for dealing effectively with security issues. However, the complete opposite appears to be the case.

        Apple has failed miserably to publicly and actively address such issues. It also fails to respond in anything that could be called a rapid manner to reports of exploitable security holes. Taking actions such as deleting posts that point out security problems makes the situation worse, not better. Failing to publicly document the existence, status and nature of defects makes the situation worse, not better. Being secretive makes the situation worse, not better.


        You are incorrect in so many ways, I find it hard to begin.

        1. There is no proof what so ever that Apple's install base is the reason Macs are more secure than Windows. Having network servers off by default and having a default web browser that doesn't run code written in C++, visual basic, and whatever the hell else ActiveX supports these days to be FAR more important than the install base. There are reasons that in the past, if you took a Windows computer out of a brand new box, hooked up via a DSL or Cable modem that your machine was hacked before you were finished logging in for the first time, and it isn't because of the installed base (you do remember that don't you). The Windows machine has active network servers running.

        2. Apple doesn't ignore security updates and issues. They fix them. Sometimes even before someone posts about them. If you don't like their update schedule and want Apache or whatnot to be running up-to-date you can install from the CVS just like the Linux and BSD people do. To me it's like saying Red hat doesn't respond rapidly to security holes. If you want a day zero fix, update from CVS. For the common user all of this is irrelevant, since their default install isn't listening to network traffic. Apple has also included other under the hood improvements, just like all other venders, to minimize the risk of buffer over flows.

        I'm sorry, Apple's not walking some kind of security minefield just getting lucky all the time. Just like Linux isn't. Unix style security just works very well and is easy to manage. Your computer isn't magic, there's a reason why Microsoft's operating systems are getting owned all the time. There are a LOT of reasons for this, most of them boil down to bad default installs and the environment Microsoft has created within it's developer community. An environment that fosters laziness and has typically done very little to stop their bad practices. Things like making applications that require the admin to be login in order to run. Which in turn leads to the floor level tech just giving everyone admin access.

        You computer is not made of magic, there are reasons Microsoft's operating systems suck and people complain about them and it's not because they are "not Apple and have a small install base".
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
          Safari for Windows had several big security holes exposed the first day, despite being, as their promo site says "Built with security in mind from the ground up". That did not inspire confidence. Quicktime has a few security holes a year that need to be patched, and a couple of those security holes have caused problems with Myspace and Second Life. I recall it took a two or three months for Apple to address the one that bugged MySpace.

          I'm not sure how programming in Objective-C is safer than C++, but I d
      • by Nimey (114278)

        profolactic
        Prophylactic.
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @12:51PM (#21717636)

        However, there is one thing that I am very troubled by and it is simply this: Apple apparent arrogance and ignorance when it comes to security.

        Apple is a mixed bag when it comes to security. They have employees they acquired from other companies specializing in Web technologies, graphics, video, and numerous other topics, as well as old-school Apple employees many of whom do not take security seriously enough. On the other hand they have all the Next employees and all the old-school Unix guys they've hired on to manage the guts, who live and breath security. As a result, in some ways Apple is way ahead of the game for security (like with their new sandboxing and signing frameworks in Leopard) and in others they seem oblivious. I can't think of another consumer desktop oriented OS that ships with so few services running, and with almost all of those sandboxed. Then you get to other things Apple, like some of their userland applications and Web services and you wonder that the same company could produce both of them. Apple is pretty schizo in this regard.

        Apple has enjoyed a "blanket" of security because it is low profile and a niche. However, as its market share and mind share expands, this period of respite will soon fade.

        I disagree. Apple is a juicy target for exploitation for many reasons. They are less likely to be exploited due to a number of market and social factors, but in general, Apple's security has been fairly sound and that is why they are not worm food. Further, I don't see Apple's security record becoming poor in the future. Apple, Linux, Solaris, etc. all have one major thing that will keep them more secure than Windows is today... motivation. If Apple's security starts to fail for their users, Apple loses money as they move away. Thus, Apple has direct financial motivation to fix the problem, and they will. This is the advantage of a free market. Microsoft, however, has a monopoly, so even when their users are screaming out for better security, MS loses very few, if any, if they ignore their customers and focus instead on locking in a new market and this latter action will make them more money. They have direct financial motivation to do little more than provide the appearance that they are doing something security-wise, and that is what they keep delivering.

        You would think that, during this time, Apple would have used the opportunity to develop and internal culture, policies and procedures, as well as infrastructure for dealing effectively with security issues. However, the complete opposite appears to be the case. Apple has failed miserably to publicly and actively address such issues. It also fails to respond in anything that could be called a rapid manner to reports of exploitable security holes. Taking actions such as deleting posts that point out security problems makes the situation worse, not better. Failing to publicly document the existence, status and nature of defects makes the situation worse, not better. Being secretive makes the situation worse, not better.

        Here is my experience with Apple's security response. My co-worker found a potentially exploitable hole in OS X. He went to Apple's Web site and reported it as a security bug in the bug report section, not commenting the forums that are for users not Apple employees. Apple sent him a message a few days later saying they'd look into it. A few weeks later the next security update for OS X came out and fixed the problem, including crediting my co-worker with discovering it. It was painless and quite rapid for that large of a project, considering the time for research, coding a fix, testing, and rollout, in fact a lot faster than our average response time to that same priority of bug (and we sell much more critical security devices). From everything I've seen, Apple responds fairly quickly to security issues reported to them and the only instances where there are major problems are where researchers refuse to give Apple details before p

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ilgaz (86384) *
        "Feedback" form is for people who (like me) to say "Leopard is awful, you shipped it too early". :)

        Actual thing is http://bugreporter.apple.com/ [apple.com] , "New Problem" "Security" from drop down menu.

        He seems as an advanced user/developer and yet uses the "Feedback" form. Than posts to public forums ignoring their policies punishing those non techie .Mac users.

        Here is the complete open Mozilla project security issue reporting guideline
        "IMPORTANT: Anyone who believes they have found a Mozilla-related security vulne
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kaos07 (1113443)

      I don't think it's the best way to deal with the problem, but I can see logic in taking down the post. The less people who know about this the better. The only thing a thread would achieve is a) People all going "WTF LULZ APPLE FIX DIS IMMEDIATELY" which would have no effect on Apple's speed in providing a solution, or b) "Wow that's a cool trick, I'm going to try it at my local net cafe" - not something we want.

      However Apple, like most corporations, clearly hasn't heard of the "Streisand effect" http://e [wikipedia.org]

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        I don't think it's the best way to deal with the problem, but I can see logic in taking down the post. The less people who know about this the better. The only thing a thread would achieve is a) People all going "WTF LULZ APPLE FIX DIS IMMEDIATELY" which would have no effect on Apple's speed in providing a solution, or b) "Wow that's a cool trick, I'm going to try it at my local net cafe" - not something we want.

        Apple can't take it down from anywhere else, (eg, here) so all it does is make them look like

      • or c) "Hey, this system could compromise my data! I'd better stop using it until they fix it! Thanks for the heads-up!"
    • by aliquis (678370)
      No, how they handle every flaw and criticism is facinating, in a bad way.

      I still haven't decide if I should like them or not, I guess they are as bad as Microsoft.
    • Free means no restrictions

      Your basic premise is wrong.
    • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:53AM (#21715574)
      The Reg is currently questioning Apple's approach even in addressing well-known security vulnerabilities that it has actually acknowledged:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/15/apple_security_fixes/ [theregister.co.uk]
    • It may be bad technical practice, it is excellent business practice.

      Their main competitor is MS. As long as their users remain less likely to have security problems than MS's users, they do not have a problem. They have no reason to waste resources on security.

      What are users who are not happy with Apple over this going to do? Switch to Windows?
    • by hankwang (413283) *

      Am I the only one that notices that Apple's response to every problem is a swift "let's delete this topic and pretend the problem doesn't exist"?

      From the forums Terms of Service [apple.com]: Post constructive comments and questions. Unless otherwise noted, your Submission should either be a technical support question or a technical support answer. Constructive feedback about product features is welcome as well. If your Submission contains the phrase "Im sorry for the rant, but" you are likely in violation of this poli

    • Am I the only one that notices that Apple's response to every problem is a swift "let's delete this topic and pretend the problem doesn't exist"? .. Seems like bad business practise to me.

      This happens all the time on corporate forums. The really infuriating part is that the admins also delete posts advocating a move to another forum without censorship. The only way to take discussion to sane place is to find topics before they've been deleted, see who's interested enough to post in those threads, and PM the
    • by Senjaz (188917)
      No you're not and you won't be the only one to take it the wrong way either. Apple has a well known public bug tracking system called the radar, stuff like this should be posted there. Not on Apple's discussion forums. If you want to discuss it else where then do so, but bitching about a problem without reporting it through proper channels is not going to help at all.
    • If most people never saw the thread, did it exist in the first place?
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *
      I want to know where the "haha" tag is for this story. It's usually the first one you find whenever a security flaw of this magnitude is discovered in one of the top two operating systems.

      Oh. I get it now.

      [disclaimer: I actually adore the Macintosh operating system and I've got a dual G5 tower sitting under my desk. It's just that I love dicking with the mac fans who get all red in the face whenever something challenges their Weltanschauung.]
  • Slant much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Osty (16825) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:19AM (#21715234)

    I love how this is a "little", "minor" security flaw, and even though Apple actively deleted the post exposing this information nobody's really up in arms as it's just due to "bad interface design". If this were a Microsoft property, people would be screaming bloody murder.

  • Clear private data (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxci (3530) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:23AM (#21715254)
    Tools > Clear Private Data in Firefox is the option you need.

    Not having a log out button is bad design but many people forget to click them, you need a decent timeout to reduce the risk for those that don't log out.

    Does this system keep you logged in (via cookies) if you close the browser and restart it? If so that's a very bad design.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      1. Clear private data in Firefox doesn't delete cookies by default.. you need to select that option.
      2. Slashdot keeps you logged in if you close the browser and restart it.. is that a bad design?
      3. Many other sites do too.. it's called convenience.

      Otherwise, yes, you're right a decent timeout is a good idea.. but what is "decent"? Sounds pretty subjective.

      • by Osty (16825) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:29AM (#21715510)

        2. Slashdot keeps you logged in if you close the browser and restart it.. is that a bad design?

        Slashdot has a "public" option. If you click that when you log in, your login state is only stored for the session and freed when you close the browser.

        3. Many other sites do too.. it's called convenience.

        Many other sites also implement a "public" mode like Slashdot has. Just as two other examples, Microsoft's Outlook Web Access (OWA) lets you choose "public" or "private" when you login, and Microsoft's Passport/Windows Live ID gives you the option to save email + password, just email, or nothing (the latter two are effectively session-only logins, as you still need the user's password in order to login subsequently). As well, every other site also has the ability to logout, which .Mac is missing.

        Otherwise, yes, you're right a decent timeout is a good idea.. but what is "decent"? Sounds pretty subjective.

        A "decent timeout" is trivially simple -- mark your cookie only valid for the current session (aka, use a "session cookie"). This is at odds with persistent login designs, so you have to give users the option -- login with a session cookie ("public terminal") that will expire when you close the browser, or login with a persistent cookie ("private terminal") that will remain valid for some period of time. If you only choose the latter, like .Mac, you must also provide a "logout" option. Anything less is a security violation.

        • by naasking (94116)
          A "decent timeout" is trivially simple -- mark your cookie only valid for the current session (aka, use a "session cookie"). This is at odds with persistent login designs, so you have to give users the option -- login with a session cookie ("public terminal") that will expire when you close the browser, or login with a persistent cookie ("private terminal") that will remain valid for some period of time.

          The server cannot trust an unknown browser to expire the cookie and the server cannot detect when a remot
  • by ookabooka (731013) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:24AM (#21715256)

    podcaster Klaatu (of thebadapples.info) posted this on the discussion.apple.com site, only to have his post removed by Apple.

    Ah, well, see, so long as Apple makes sure no knows about this, it won't be a problem. Surly everyone on Slashdot sees the validity of this strategy. (God I love my sig)
  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:25AM (#21715262) Homepage Journal

    After accessing your iDisk in Firefox:

    • Tools -> Clear Private Data"

    In Safari:

    • Safari -> Reset Safari

    Or if you remember to do so before visiting .Mac's iDisk page:

    • Safari -> Private Browsing

    Problem solved.

    So yes, there are ways for the average user to log-out of their iDisk from a public terminal. They just simply have to use the existing facilities at their disposal.

    Yaz.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shifuimam (768966)
      That's great and all, but it doesn't change the fact that (a) any web interface with confidential or private information should have an obvious method of logging out that doesn't require specific knowledge about how to delete cookies for a certain browser/applicationn, and (b) Apple is yet again ignoring and censoring users who are pointing out this flaw.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Moofie (22272)
        Seems to me that if you're concerned about security, you should think very carefully about using a public terminal.
        • "Seems to me that if you're concerned about security, you should think very carefully about using a public terminal."

          If the real world worked that way there'd be no guard rails.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tedrlord (95173) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @08:55AM (#21716236)
          The whole problem is that they're not concerned about security. Most security measures are because users aren't concerned about security. They get really concerned when they find out someone's taken all their stuff, but that's a different subject.

          Anyway, as computer nerds, we're supposed to be concerned about computer security. Most people aren't. They have their own concerns. I'm glad that they're around to look after other things, so I don't have to be concerned about my bank running out of money, or my medication not being poisoned, or my car falling apart while I drive it, or all those nice other things that could be a really big problem if there weren't people making sure we were safe.

          Anyway, a good computer security example is antivirus software. I stay the hell away from the stuff, it's slow and buggy and bogs down my system more than most viruses do. On linux, it's not an issue since security issues there are better handled by better configuration and monitoring, and on my windows box I just use manual system/network diagnostic tools to keep an eye on it and fix whatever's needed.

          Does that mean I recommend the same to my friends? Hell no! I make sure they always run both a good antivirus and a firewall at all times. Otherwise they get viruses constantly. They just don't have the background to understand what they should and shouldn't do to avoid the things, not to mention the lack of skill necessary to deal with viruses as they come.

          My friends aren't stupid (most of them anyway), it's just not what they do. They use computers as tools to get things done, and if they're not making it safe and easy to do the work they want, then the computers aren't working right. That's just how it is, and that's why services that allow people to use public terminals need to be built from the ground up to make it secure to use a public terminal.

          You'd think Apple of all people (er, companies) would understand the need to make the right interface for different kinds of applications. Well, maybe I'm thinking back to the Eighties, way before their brushed metal/colorful candy era. If I had my way, they'd have canonized Raskin by now.
          • by naasking (94116)
            You'd think Apple of all people (er, companies) would understand the need to make the right interface for different kinds of applications.

            They did make the right interface. Fact is, this is not a security flaw [slashdot.org]. No, seriously. :-)
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by admactanium (670209) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:01AM (#21715382) Homepage

        That's great and all, but it doesn't change the fact that (a) any web interface with confidential or private information should have an obvious method of logging out that doesn't require specific knowledge about how to delete cookies for a certain browser/applicationn, and (b) Apple is yet again ignoring and censoring users who are pointing out this flaw.
        i agree. but fyi, i just did this with my own idisk account. if you quit the browser, then you cannot get back to the idisk interface without a password prompt. there should be a log-out function, but it's not as if it's impossible to end the session.
    • Good advice for anybody accessing anything from anywhere via any browser. When finished, clear cache, delete cookies etc. Just common sense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eck011219 (851729)
      All of that is true. But Apple has this whole "I'm a Mac" ad campaign that touts the ease of use of Macs for the average joe out there, but then does something like this where you need to know fairly deeply what's going on internally to keep yourself safe. To the typical user, if it's not on-screen, it's gone. They understand "log out," but won't understand that there are still scrids of their session left on a public computer even if the browser is closed.

      Moreover, look at even the phrasing of the examples
    • by v1 (525388)
      The occurance of his post makes a great deal more sense if you consider the possibility that he's less technical than the "average user". That would explain why he's unaware of standard features. Sort of like a caveman complaining that a mouse is too complicated of a tool for the "average user" to be be expected to use.
  • by pwizard2 (920421)
    Is the iDisk connection encrypted, or is it wide open?

    This sounds like a job that some sort of graphical SSH frontend could do better. (since OS X has ssh support built in)
  • by Dieppe (668614) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:31AM (#21715278) Homepage
    Slashdot editor kdawson and Slashdot submitter deleuth mysteriously disappear...
  • That's interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:33AM (#21715282)
    I've never noticed that before. Probably because desktop WebDav on OS X is so slow that I just use dedicated client apps. The poster isn't being perfectly clear on the whole process for accessing your iDisk via dot mac. Here's how it goes. You sign into dot mac, then you sign into your iDisk. Same username, same password for both. You get a web page that access your WebDav folder on Apple's servers. Signing out of dot mac doesn't sign you out of the iDisk. A simple history check pulls it right back up with full write access to your iDisk (clearly not from web cache). No one would expect that behavior. I would assume there is a network idle time out, as dotmac has.

    In real experience terms, this isn't going to be much of an issue until it's fixed, but does put a small stain on the portability of the service. Which is one of Apples main advertising points for it. Gotta remember though, Apple, like all other companies is filled with a lot of people. There are moderators on Apple forums, for all we know one of them removed it then notified management of the problem and it's working it's way up the command. It's not like Steve Jobs read it and said, "OMGWTFBBQ!?!?! PULL THAT NOW!".

    Though, the extra publicity will help.

  • by Shifuimam (768966) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @04:35AM (#21715288) Homepage Journal
    Yet another incident where Apple blatantly ignores the customers they claim to value so much...and they will likely continue to do so until there's such a shitstorm about this that they have no choice but to respond. Apple used to be a good company...ten years ago. Now they're just as bad (if not worse, in many regards) as every other IT giant out there. Sad.
    • by megaditto (982598)
      Why is that? Did they change something 10 years ago to make them different?

      Personally, I just don't expect a publicly traded company to look out for me (unless I am a shareholder, but even then...)
  • Wait, what?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:15AM (#21715432) Homepage Journal
    No SSH session for transmission of personal data, and reliable logout for protection? Insane security practice from a now UNIX-certified OS vendor, especially when it comes to something so private as the transfer of one's hard disk contents to an internet backup? Ah well, it was bound to happen, and it has probably happened in the past, and will likely happen again in the future. Anyone can slip up.
    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday December 16, 2007 @05:29AM (#21715512)
      Anyone can slip up.

      Ah, but this is Slashdot, where corporations are composed of primordial evil and capitalism is the beefy fart of the Devil. Every slip up is cause for running to the hills to prepare revolutionary strikes, and then run to the other hills and plan counter-revolutionary terror, and we all run around like decapitated chickens shouting comforting mantras like "Information wants to be free!" and "It am teh suk!"
  • If you let someone have full access to your computer, they can delete personal files and directories! News at 11!

  • I thought that session cookies died when the browser window closed - or does .Mac use URL rewriting?
  • The problem remains: there is no way for the average computer user to log-out of their iDisk on public computers.
    If it uses cookies, you could delete all cookies before you leave.
  • This sounds like an opportunity for Apple to add a logout feature for HTTP Basic authentication to their browser. After all, they control both the browser and .mac; they can make this work. I've never understood why there is no logout feature for HTTP Basic authentication.

    I don't know if .mac actually uses HTTP Basic auth for authentication (if I were to guess I would guess not), but still.
  • If someone has physical access to your machine, you're completely screwed 5 ways from Sunday REGARDLESS of the access controls in place. There is NO protection from such an attack. Consider the situation where the site did require a login: the person who gains access to your machine then installs a keylogger and steals your password. SAME conclusion. The key concept here is that no security is invulnerable once you lose control of the hardware. The RIAA and MPAA have been learning this lesson for the past f
  • I though all Macs were used for doing some graphics. How risky can it be?

    (/sarcasm)

  • Right next to your username.

  • If someone uses a public computer to access their private data, typing in their user names and passwords and don't know how to clear the browser's cache and other private data they deserve everything they get. People should know what is private and what is public and why things are behind authentication access control screens. People who think they are safe because they killed the browser instance, would have left their mail accounts bank accounts and other things vulnerable too. The malefactor has these te

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