Vulnerability Note VU#945747

Mac OS X executes 'recent items' with privileges of foreground application

Original Release date: 05 Nov 2001 | Last revised: 05 Nov 2001


The "recent items" feature of MacOS X allows users at the console to trivially obtain root privileges.


MacOS X includes a feature called recent items. Recent Items is a list of documents and applications that have recently been accessed. An application launched from the Recent Items list runs with the privileges of the foreground application, not the privilege of the console user. This enables a trivial exploit to gain root access from the console.


Attackers with access to the console (i.e. logged in at the desktop, not remotely) can gain root access.


Use the Software Update feature of MacOS X to install the security update dated 10-19-2001.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
AppleAffected-05 Nov 2001
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

Group Score Vector
Base N/A N/A
Temporal N/A N/A
Environmental N/A N/A



Our thanks to Ben Crosby and CÚsar Valencia who reported this problem to us. Additionally, we thank Scott Anguish for his article on

This document was written by Shawn V. Hernan.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: Unknown
  • Date Public: 18 Oct 2001
  • Date First Published: 05 Nov 2001
  • Date Last Updated: 05 Nov 2001
  • Severity Metric: 10.50
  • Document Revision: 11


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