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QuickTime Security Update Taxes Some Mac Users

Some computer users running Apple Mac OS X are having a bit of a taxing time with the TurboTax software after installing a recent security update for Apple's QuickTime media player. The QuickTime update, released last week, effectively prevents a number of programs from launching.

The problem appears to be limited to users of Mac OS X 10.3.9 and earlier versions, but the interference caused by the QuickTime update is not limited to TurboTax. The update is reportedly causing problems with games such as World of Warcraft, Age of Empires III, Full Tilt Poker and Snake, according to numerous threads at the online user forums of both Apple and TurboTax.

It looks like TurboTax parent Intuit plans to release an update on Monday to try and work around Apple's patch. The company even posted a link where users can leave their contact information to be alerted when a fix is available.

For many users, that response stood in contrast to Apple's, which -- now a week after this "QuickTax" problem was first highlighted -- so far has been non-existent. Michael Molton, a software engineer from Virginia Beach, Va., was less than impressed: "COME ON APPLE," he wrote in a post last Wednesday on Apple's user forum. "You introduced this bug about 48 hours ago, there is zero excuse for not having a fix or at the VERY least some announcement that a fix is coming." A user going by the name MacPatty writes: "Is anyone at Apple actually working on this problem or we all just talking to each other here. Does Apple know that they created a big problem for us?"

Apple's silence on security-related problems facing its rapidly expanding user base has been lagging a bit lately. More than four months ago, a computer worm that leveraged a design flaw in QuickTime spread rapidly to users of the social networking site, stealing passwords from more than 100,000 users. The company responded by quietly issuing a patch designed just for MySpace users, which MySpace admins rolled out in a rather clumsy and insecure way. But Apple largely refused to talk to reporters about the whole incident, and it has yet to issue an advisory to let QuickTime users know whether they should be at all concerned about it, and if so what they can do to minimize their chances of being the next victim.

OK, so maybe the largest share of QuickTime users are running Microsoft Windows, and the MySpace worm didn't appear to do much more than steal MySpace logins. Still, this is an attack that could be replicated on other sites, with more serious consequences affecting both Mac and Apple users.

A question for Apple: Could you create a simple blog that offers suggestions or workarounds for high-profile problems affecting your customers, or at least assure users that you have heard their concerns and are investigating the problem?

By Brian Krebs  |  March 12, 2007; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Latest Warnings  
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Next: Apple Releases a Bushel of Software Patches

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