Feeds

Mac OS X security under scrutiny

Even a mac can have holes

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Apple adopted its variant of the Unix operating system, the Berkeley Software Distribution or BSD, as the basis for its revamped Mac OS, which it first released in March 2001. Since then the number of flaws discovered that affect the operating system has steadily increased, to 46 in 2004 from 5 in 2001, according to the OSVDB.

However, Mac OS X does not have the same security problems that Windows does, Martin said. In many ways, Apple's operating system gains the advantages of Unix, but because Unix has not historically been a desktop operating system, many of the mistakes made by Microsoft - such as Active X controls' poor security model and unsecured services - are not present, he said. Instead, Apple users primarily need to worry about malicious Web sites that attack through the Safari browser and media files that exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system's applications. The SANS Top-20, for example, called out five different parts of the Windows operating system, including Internet Explorer, the broad Windows services category, and Windows configuration weaknesses.

Poor configuration of Mac OS X computers is also a worry, according to some network administrators.

"The problem is that there are enough OS X boxes on networks that are not patched, firewalled, and configured that they pose a clear and present danger to the networks they reside on," said one university information-technology specialist posting to the Full Disclosure security mailing list.

Security researchers also worry about Apple's hesitation to speak publicly about its operating system's security. Apple has infrequently commented on the topic of its operating system security or the company's security policies. Apple also declined to comment for this article.

Yet, including the entire operating system as a to-do item on a list of top-20 vulnerabilities is not entirely fair, OSVDB's Martin said.

"In 2005, they have about the same number of vulnerabilities in the operating system as Windows, but Microsoft has a much greater market share," Martin said. "The Mac OS doesn't deserve a spot any more than any other operating system."

SANS's Dhamankar stressed that the intent was not to call the Mac OS X operating system a threat, but to give Mac users a wake up call. If they have not been paying attention to security, then they should start today, he said.

"There are some people that feel that, if they are running Mac OS X, then all is well," Dhamankar said. "That is no longer true."

Copyright © 2005, SecurityFocus

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?