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CERT Coordination Center

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

Vulnerability Note VU#945747

Original Release Date: 2001-11-05 | Last Revised: 2001-11-05


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.

Vendor Information

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Updated:  November 05, 2001



Vendor Statement


Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.


The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

CVSS Metrics

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



Our thanks to Ben Crosby and César 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: None
Severity Metric: 10.50
Date Public: 2001-10-18
Date First Published: 2001-11-05
Date Last Updated: 2001-11-05 19:48 UTC
Document Revision: 11

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