Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Apple's Widget "exploit": The sky is not falling, so go back to sleep

Apple computer tends to pride itself - most of the time rightfully - on its lack of viruses, malware, and spyware, things that plague the majority PC community to the tune of nearly 98,000 items. So naturally, when Apple makes a programming goof that could potentially open the door to such things, the "plagued" can't help but howel derisively, in a "sky is falling" fashion.

www.macworld.com/news/2005/05/09/dashboard/

Apparently, Tiger's new "Dashboard" feature is a bit flawed, in that, unlike any other application, widgets can be downloaded and installed on the fly, without having to enter an admin password, a feature that is one of the gatekeepers of OS X's security. In addition, Safari 2.0's default prefs could allow a user to "unwittingly download and install a Dashboard widget". This could allow someone to theoretically write a "bad widget" that could infiltrate the hapless user's hard drive, etc. To add insult to injury, once widgets are installed, they are apparently a bitch to remove.

Until now.

www.downtownsoftwarehouse.com/WidgetManager/

Within 48 hours of this story's breaking, the people at the link offered - for free - a little CP that handles all the widgets in a manner that Apple itself should have designed in to begin with.

If there is any embarassment here, it's not that OS X is now "vulnerable" to malware - that issue was solved within hours. The embarassing thing for Apple is that it's always touting it key security technologies as "built in, not bolted on". Here is clearly something that should have been built-in.

Even so, this hasn't stopped Macs from flying off the shelves.

So go back to sleep, everybody, and happy widgeting. Show's over, folks.

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