Adobe has worked with Apple to sandbox Flash Player under Safari in Mac OS X, restricting the ability of attackers to exploit any vulnerabilities they might find in the browser plug-in.
“With this week’s release of Safari in OS X Mavericks, Flash Player will now be protected by an OS X App Sandbox,” Peleus Uhley, platform security strategist at Adobe, said Wednesday in a blog post.
A sandbox is a mechanism that enforces certain restrictions on how an application interacts with the underlying operating system.
Sandboxing Flash Player under Safari on Mac OS X increases the level of protection against Web-based attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins to install malware on systems.
The majority of these attacks target Windows computers, but Mac users have had their fair share of problems because of vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins like Flash Player or Java.
In April 2012 attackers exploited a Java vulnerability to infect around 670,000 Mac OS X computers with a Trojan program called Flashback.
In February, Adobe released an emergency security update to patch two critical vulnerabilities in Flash Player, one of which was being exploited in attacks against Firefox and Safari users on Mac OS X.
Because of such attacks, Apple started blacklisting outdated versions of Java and Flash Player in Safari through XProtect.
With the new Safari release in Mavericks, “Flash Player’s capabilities to read and write files will be limited to only those locations it needs to function properly,” Uhley explained. “The sandbox also limits Flash Player’s local connections to device resources and inter-process communication (IPC) channels. Finally, the sandbox limits Flash Player’s networking privileges to prevent unnecessary connection capabilities.”
“The result is that customers can still view Flash Player content while benefiting from these added security protections,” Uhley said.
Sandboxing Flash Player under Safari on Mac OS X is the latest step in the company’s plan to secure the plug-in across different platforms and browsers. On Windows, Flash Player already has been sandboxed under Google Chrome since March 2011, under Mozilla Firefox since June 2012 and under Internet Explorer 10 since it was released on Windows 8.