Background of MacOS Big Sur (MacOS 11)
Apple announced new updates across all it’s operating systems, namely MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS and tvOS. The company highlighted features that are prominent in each of these operating systems. In this article, we look at the new security updates in MacOS Big Sur.
When it comes to privacy, Apple uses 4 approaches:
- Minimization of personal data that can be accessed by Apple of app developers
- Improved device intelligence to reduced data sent to the cloud for processing
- Increased security features
- More transparency and control of one’s data
The security architecture has been expanded and builds on those of MacOS Catalina, the previous version.
There is a full overhaul of the graphics designed, with some describing it as a transition to an iOSified appearance.
Graphical elements are now similar across all operating systems and iOS takes the lead.
What are the new security features of Big Sur?
MacOS Big Sur was released on the 12th of November and shortly afterwards they released an update v11.0.1. This update patched 60 vulnerabilities and users were advised to update to this latest version.
In some reports users with older Macbook Pros bricked their devices after updating to MacOS Big Sur 11.0.
Some of the security and privacy features you should expect are:
Privacy information on App store
You can now understand the privacy practices of an app before you download it, akin to what food labels help you understand the ingredients before buying.
Simple display of privacy information
This allows you to quickly read the information easily and quickly.
Faster software updates
These updates happen in the background and you are always up to date when there is a new version that is released. Any security flaws are updated and the risk of malware attacks is reduced.
Cryptographically signed system volume
This protects your Mac from malicious tampering.
Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari
This is to identify trackers and prevent them from profiling your web activities or following you around the web.
There is a Privacy report that shows every tracker that Safari has blocked.
Safari also monitors saved passwords and checks for any passwords that may have been involved in a data breach.
New, more secure passwords are generated automatically and they remain anonymous to everyone else, even Apple.
When MacOS Big Sur was launched there was a surge of downloads to such an extend that a bug was triggered in the Gatekeeper.
This Gatekeeper is a service that determines if a software to be launched or downloaded is legitimate or not. As a result, apps did not open when the glitch occurred.
Some people don’t want Gatekeeper to regulate what they download but from a security point of view, this monitoring is necessary.
When security researchers dug deeper on the issue they discovered that unencrypted data was being exchanged. This led to the conclusion that Apple is monitoring devices to see apps installed or running.
However, Apple denied all these allegations:
“We have never combined data from these checks with information about Apple users or their devices”
“We do not use data from these checks to learn what individual users are launching or running on their devices.”
With unencrypted data being sent between the Mac and Apple server, a hacker can intercept it and this is a serious security concern.
In a statement they wrote:
“These security checks have never included the user’s Apple ID or the identity of their device. To further protect privacy, we have stopped logging IP addresses associated with Developer ID certificate checks, and we will ensure that any collected IP addresses are removed from logs”
In addition, Apple is completely changing the network request design and adding a user opt-out option.
“In addition, over the the next year we will introduce several changes to our security checks:
- A new encrypted protocol for Developer ID certificate revocation checks
- Strong protections against server failure
- A new preference for users to opt out of these security protections”
Although the launch did not proceed smoothly as planned, Apple is highly alert and ready to address any issue associated with the transition to the new operating system.
You can visit their website to get full information on MacOS Big Sur. Share the post and subscribe so that you can receive regular updates on new content.