Feeds

Mac OS X security under scrutiny

Even a mac can have holes

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.