Quicktime – Update me and stay vulnerable!

By Thomas Kristensen

On the 23 of January, Apple issued a Security Update for the Quicktime player to address a vulnerability, which was published on the first day of the year. A bit late, considering that the issue is fairly-straight forward to exploit (in fact, Secunia knows of at least two working exploits in the wild) and the fact that Quicktime is installed on more than 50% of private PCs*.

But now the patch is out, all is forgiven and everyone is happy, because now they can secure their system. Right?


Turns out, only Apple Mac OS X users can download the security update. Windows users, who download the latest version of Quicktime are (at the time of writing, 2 days after the Security Update was published by Apple) still vulnerable.

If you're a Windows user, you simply can't download a non-vulnerable version. Secuniawas informed about this issue because we received an enormous amount of feedback from users of the Secunia Software Inspector. They complained that they had just downloaded the "latest" version from Apple and that the Software Inspector was wrong in reporting that they were still were vulnerable!

If there is one thing we don't accept at Secunia, then it is being wrong. So we had to put this to the test. We downloaded the "latest" version straight from Apple and exploited the vulnerability – so our Software Inspector was right! Phew!

But what went wrong? Well, rather than supplying the correct fixed version for download, Apple still provides the old vulnerable version. To get the actual security upgrade, users have to go through a rigorous update process,which is entirely different from the download process. To make matters worse, the update process isn't documented anywhere, so users may not even know where to begin!

In other words, even the most security-minded users would never find out that their efforts to update their insecure Quicktime was in fact in vain – unless they used the Secunia Software Inspector to verify this.

The vulnerability was disclosed by the Month of Apple Bugs (MoAB) as a way to start the year. When the MoAB group published the initial advisory, they also provided a working exploit that could allow attackers to gain access to vulnerable systems.

The flaw is actually in the way that the Quicktime player handles RTSP URLs when opening QTL movie files. As most Quicktime aficionados would know, RTSP is the protocol that allows users to stream audio and video data from media servers into their computers.

Video sharing and movie streaming are extremely popular for Internet users, and working exploits are available for download by whoever suddenly feels like hacking around. Because of these, then it's not unlikely that you might receive an email from some random person that contains a link to a "hilari0us" video, or one with the promise of "h0t gRRRlz". All it takes is one click, and when your Quicktime starts processing that QTL file, then your attacker can immediately run arbitrary code on your system.

Use the Secunia Software Inspector to see whether you are vulnerable – and if you are, thenthe Software Inspector also provides you with the full description of the rigorous update process.