Mac’s malware protection still needs patching

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Hackers are now using FairPlay system itself to gain access to iOS devices.
Hackers are now using FairPlay system itself to gain access to iOS devices.
Photo: Colin / Wikimedia Commons

We all know Apple’s are much safer than Windows PCs at keeping out the malware, right?

Researcher Patrick Wardle has been trying to make sure of that for months now as he pokes holes in Apple’s current protection scheme, Gatekeeper.

In fact, he’s gotten past Apple’s latest patch to its software security system in literally five minutes.

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Super-simple exploit lets malware creep onto your Mac

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It's really easy to bypass Mac's Gatekeeper.
It's really easy to bypass Mac's Gatekeeper.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s Gatekeeper feature was designed to keep even the most advanced users from accidentally installing malicious software on their computers, but a super-simple exploit lets hackers sneak malware onto your Mac.

The exploit was discovered by Patrick Wardle, director of research at security firm Synack. Wardle found that the exploit is made possible thanks to a key design shortcoming in Gatekeeper that lets an attacker use a binary file already trusted by Apple to execute malicious files.

Here’s how it works:

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Safely Install Non-Mac App Store Apps On Your Mac [OS X Tips]

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Gatekeeper

Another advantage of the Mac App Store, besides pausing downloads, safe uninstalls, and easy re-downloads of Mac OS X apps, is the safety of knowing that anything in the Mac App Store has been vetted by Apple.

One way your Mac makes sure you’re (relatively safe) from rogue apps is what’s called Gatekeeper. By default, this bit of software only allows you to install verified apps from the Mac App Store on your Mac. What if, however, you want to download software from a Mac developer who doesn’t distribute their software on the Mac App Store? You’ll need to bypass Gatekeeper in order to do so.

Here’s how to do that safely.

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Mountain Lion Offers Dozens Of New Features For Business Users

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Many of Mountain Lion's new features are perfect for businesses, schools, and enterprises.
Many of Mountain Lion's new features are perfect for businesses, schools, and enterprises.

Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features. Some of them are dramatic and hard to miss while others are minor conveniences that don’t stand out immediately. Many of those big and small new features and improvements have a lot of appeal for business users.

Here’s a list of the many new features in Mountain Lion that can help professionals in almost any industry work smarter, more efficiently, and more effectively.

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Apple’s iCloud and Gatekeeper Make Businesses Choose One Security Risk Over Another

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Mountain Lion's consumer security and cloud features conflict in schools and workplaces.
Mountain Lion's consumer security and cloud features conflict in schools and workplaces.

In putting together the various features of Mountain Lion, Apple may end up encouraging business and enterprise customers to actually make their Macs less secure instead of ratcheting up security as some key Mountain Lion capabilities are intended to do.

There are a handful of technologies involved, but they center around iCloud and Apple’s requirement that apps sold in the Mac App Store support Apple’s application sandboxing technique.

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Kaspersky CEO: Apple Is “10 Years Behind Microsoft In Terms Of Security”

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Kaspersky believes Apple needs to invest more into Mac OS X security as more and more malware infections appear.
Kaspersky believes Apple needs to invest more into Mac OS X security as more and more malware infections appear.

One of the main reasons many of us turned to Apple’s machines and its OS X operating system is the belief that the company’s software is more secure than Windows, its biggest rival. However, Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and co-founder of Kaspersky, one of the industry’s leading security specialists, believes that Apple is “10 years behind Microsoft in terms of security,” and that Apple need to invest more into security audits for its software.

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Apple’s Software Update Gets A New Security Certificate That Could Trip Up OS X Server

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Lion Server (and Snow Leopard Server) Software Update Server may experience problems beginning tomorrow
Lion Server (and Snow Leopard Server) Software Update Server may experience problems beginning tomorrow

Apple uses digital certificates and code signing in various ways to help keep Macs secure. One common example is that apps sold through the Mac App Store are digitally signed, which allows an individual Mac to know that it’s getting the genuine article when a user launches the App Store app. It also allows a Mac to ensure that an application hasn’t been tampered with by a malicious user or a piece of malware each time that app is launched (Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper feature will be based on the same technology).

The same process is used with Apple’s Software Update servers. Each update from Apple is digitally signed using a certificate that let’s each Mac know that they’re getting genuine updates from Apple.

Digital certificates are designed to expire periodically and tomorrow, March 23, 2012, the certificate associated with Apple’s Software Update functionality will be expiring. Apple already has a new certificate ready that won’t expire for seven more years (2019). The transition to the certificate will be transparent for almost all Mac users, but it may create problems with some OS X Server installations.

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