Safari sandboxes Flash Player to protect OS X Mavericks

The Flash Player plug-in has more restrictions on it, and thus better security

Adobe has worked with Apple to sandbox Flash Player under Safari in OS X Mavericks, restricting the ability of attackers to exploit any vulnerabilities they might find in the browser plug-in. A sandbox is a mechanism that enforces certain restrictions on how an application interacts with the underlying operating system.

"Flash Player's capabilities to read and write files will be limited to only those locations it needs to function properly," wrote Peleus Uhley, a platform security strategist at Adobe, in a blog post. "The sandbox also limits Flash Player's local connections to device resources and interprocess communication 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."

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Sandboxing Flash Player under Safari on 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 PCs, but Mac users have had their fair share of problems because of vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins like Flash Player and Java. In April 2012, for example, attackers exploited a Java vulnerability to infect about 670,000 Macs 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 OS X.

Because of such attacks, Apple started blacklisting outdated versions of Java and Flash Player in Safari via OS X's built-in antimalware mechanism.

In 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.