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Apple® patches security flaws in Safari and blocks Adobe® Flash Player

Apple has issued security patches to answer four security vulnerabilities in Safari, and has blocked the outdated versions of Adobe Flash Player from running in its browser.

The four security flaws fixed were similar to those that were patched a few days before in iOS 5.1.1 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. All the vulnerabilities were termed as bugs in WebKit, the open-source rendering engine that powers Safari as well as Google Chrome.

What else?

In addition to this, Safari 5.1.7, which runs on OS X 10.6 and OS X 10.7 – Snow Leopard and Lion, respectively – as well as on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, was released. An update for Lion that included a bit older version of the browser was also unveiled. Lion users must download and install both updates to push Safari to version 5.1.7.

Along with the four security patches, Apple also stopped Adobe Flash Player from running on Safari if the plug-in was older than version 10.1.102.64, which was released in November 2010.

Microsoft® Windows® security patches

In January 2011, Microsoft released two bulletins for patching up three shortcomings related to security measures which can affect the Windows operating system. The major vulnerabilities of serious nature can be exploited through drive-by downloading websites as warned by the software company. Flaws for the drive-by download which were covered through MS11-002 were briefed to Microsoft through the program ‘TippingPoint Zero Day Initiative’ which buys data of vulnerability from private researchers.

The bulletin contains a minimum of two separate types of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Data Access Components and cautioned that security problems are there in the path of Microsoft Data Access Components which permitted third party usage of API and allocation of memory. Microsoft treats this as an important issue various editions of Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows XP. On Window Server 2008, Windows Server R2 and Windows Server 2003 the harshness is downgraded to vital. The second bulletin projects vulnerability regarding publicly disclosed matter in Backup Manager for Windows.

MS11-001 extends a patch with respect to DLL preloading matter in the backup tool of Windows. It is rated as important and applies only for Windows Vista. Preloading of DLL is an issue in other operating systems. It attracted attention in August 2010 when many vulnerable applications were found. Given the opportunity of preloading vulnerabilities of the DLLs, it is recommended for implementing the updates, KB2264107 and Security Advisory 2269637 that neutralizes the malicious attacks.

Although, some shortcomings will not be rectified such as Graphics Rendering Engine of Windows and vulnerability patches related to zero-day threats. These vulnerabilities may still be exploited as opined by Dave Marcus, director of communications and security research at McAfee Labs. The recommendation of McAfee is that one should install patches of Microsoft as early as possible. Users of Home editions of Windows should utilize Windows Automatic Updates. Users of Business editions require implementing a strategy for risk management and prioritizing the patches.

Microsoft® patches Windows® and Internet Explorer®

In February 2011, Microsoft issued three bulletins related to the Internet Explorer (IE) security based patches for each week. These bulletins address 22 security vulnerabilities. MS11-003 carries updates related to 4 vulnerabilities. Also included is a fix for the bug that is outlined in the Microsoft advisory. This is a bug that could give outsiders access to a person’s settings.

Focused on this vulnerability, the task of removing this bug has been downplayed by Microsoft. To put this point through, Microsoft released telemetry statistics to state how the vulnerability can stack up against the patched vulnerability of Windows Shell, and explaining why a fix could not be released other than the normal cycle of release.

The next vulnerability addressed is the attack on thumbnail image. This fixes a loophole in the security of Microsoft Windows Graphic Engine that allows attacks on the files with thumbnail address. It allows outsiders gain knowledge and use of the incumbent’s computer and makes them load a specially formatted image. This problem is there in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. However, it is absent in Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 as Microsoft puts it.

The third or the other vulnerability is against open type compact font attack that has led to load a malicious font type which then spreads to the system. Rating second in the index, this vulnerability is rendered a patch remedy now. The vulnerability has also been disclosed privately and rates high in the index list.  Along with these patches, Microsoft is also changing the Autorun facility on USB thumb drives in previous versions of Windows, earlier than Windows 7.

The update tackles basically 22 vulnerabilities that have come up in the course of the discovering of vulnerabilities as per reports and actual experiences. The extent to which these vulnerabilities affect the Windows operating system is to a great extent available to Microsoft based on which they release patches and updates every week. On February 8, 2011, these patches were released which would have taken effect by now.

Windows® Phone 7 update

It is true that nowadays most of the people who are going for purchasing phones whether it is Nokia or Samsung, they always want the phone to have the most updated hardware and along with that the OS would be updated too. In several cases it was seen that most of the phones manufactured by Nokia were actually being run by the Symbian OS. This was a major problem with the phones because then most of the phones did not support applications and stuffs, which could be done over the computer and on the Internet. This problem was solved by the sudden movement of the introduction of the Windows Phone 7 OS, which made them a powerful gadget.

Most of the people who missed things like instant webpage development and HTML support in their phones were now stunned to find the difference in the speed and managing capabilities of the new phones, which were available in the market with the new Windows updates. However, this fact is absolutely true that only ninety percent Windows Phone 7-based mobiles are updating fine while others are facing issues regarding the updating.

In most cases it was seen that these phones which supported the Windows Phone OS had several new applications like the background web applications which were to be hiding when not in use. However, they provided all the current notifications and they supported several applications as well. The constant running of the background applications supported instant caching of the web pages and instant loading as well.

Besides, there were several other updates which were included in the phones that were the usage of the social networking sites. Another great feature of most of the phones supporting Windows Phone was the updated versions of the Internet Explorer, which provided HTML support. Updating problems persist in 10 percent of the phones. But it is good to know that the problem won’t last for long and steps are being taken to fix the issues as soon as possible.

Windows® Phone 7 update may be delayed

Microsoft is facing issues related to their Windows Phone 7 operating system for mobile phones. Although, Microsoft is regarded as the inventor of tablets, with their very early presentations and offerings, many, many years ago, when neither Apple nor any other known international player had even thought of tablets, Microsoft appears nowhere near staging a comeback or providing an alternative to any of the competition, as of today.

With Apple, RIM, HTC, Sony and other companies, making waves in this area, Microsoft is still struggling with their new Windows Phone 7 platform. Although, Microsoft has had a history of major and stable re-entries into the markets, years after competition launched their products and platforms, in gaining world supremacy also, the smartphone platform is doing its rounds with bugs and fixes.

Over the last couple of months, Microsoft had appeared to a strong contender with their Windows Phone 7 platform, to take on the competition, starting from the CES 2011 and into the MWC 2011. However, problems faced by Microsoft on the Samsung smartphones, with their updates not performing, rather even making the Samsung smartphones not usable after the updates, have raised many eyebrows. The next blow came with the update to the Samsung problem, not working.

In February, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, had made various announcements regarding performance enhancement and the introduction of the cut-and-paste functionality, updates to the Windows Phone 7 platform, arriving by early March. The buzz in the market vide unconfirmed news items is that the updates have been delayed and could arrive somewhere around March 21st. After the introduction of Windows Phone 7-based devices in the US early November, Microsoft has yet to update basic functionality improvements, multitasking features and various other enhancements, including some like HTML 5 support.

In fact, multitasking feature in the operating system, probably codenamed “Mango”, insider reports claim may not be ready until early / mid 2012. All said and done, the Windows Phone 7 CDMA options also have not seen the light of day yet. Even with all these problems at the fore, user opinion of the Windows Phone 7 platform is good. Most users are very comfortable with the product, and generally seem to appreciate the social networking integration aspects and other simple Windows features existing.

With the Windows Phone 7 feature updates getting delayed further, and with rumors of the Microsoft Nokia collaboration agreements, reaching unforeseen levels and Nokia waiting for crucial feature enhancements, the Nokia – Microsoft venture is not expected to see the light of day with products in the market anywhere before mid 2012.

Apple® releases iTunes® 10.2.1 update

Apple has been ruling the roost in the smartphones and the computers markets since 2007. The massive success of the iPhone and the iPad has made Apple one of the most cash rich technology companies in the world. Pure marketing ingenuity has performed beyond all the business world’s expectations.

Right through the recession period, over the last few years and the economic slowdown, Apple has gone ahead making billions in profits. The acumen of the Apple combine in launching their products with a lot of hype, pre-created, has taken Apple way ahead of all competition. In a short period, the Google Android platform has done wonders. The high quality apps created by Apple’s developers, have many success stories to their account. With fierce competition round the corner, Apple still leads in all the categories of the game.

Year on year, Apple has been introducing one major update to the iOS and a series of offerings through the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Mac OS and the Apple Macintosh are still termed to be the crowning glory. No doubt, any success story also has its pitfalls. The Windows saga is a clear example. With Windows controlling phenomenal market share, the vulnerabilities in the OS and the browsers were also peaking points.

Looking at the iTunes, a proprietary digital media player application that also acts as an interface managing content on the iPod, iPhone and the iPad. With the iTunes one can also connect through to the iTunes’ store for download as well as purchase of music, videos, TV shows, games, movies, ringtones etc. Starting from 2001 this product has been continuously updated, introducing various privacy policies, real time location information, and features making purchase and download, easy to use.

iTunes supports reading, writing and conversion of MP3, AIFF, WAB, MPEG 4, AAC file formats. Regular features and security updates to iTunes have been Apple’s success, with the feature rich Media Player App. Recently, early March, 2011, Apple released the iTunes 10.2 update, as also the iOS 4.3 Sync support included. Within a week of this introduction, barely 3 to 4 days before the iOS 4.3 update was expected, Apple launched one more iTunes update, namely the iTunes 10.2.1 of 78 MB approximately in size for the Mac and 37 MB approximately for the Windows, with no change in details of the update of the iTunes 10.2. Probably Apple introduced some bug fix or a feature for better performance with the iOS 4.3. There is no information beyond this, as of now.

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