macOS Gatekeeper Vulnerability Discovered

Apple has released important security updates under macOS 11.3, in response to a serious gatekeeper vulnerability discovered by security researcher Cedric Owens.

The weakness, found in Apple’s ‘Gatekeeper’ tool which normally blocks unrecognised apps from being installed by default, allows a dangerous file to be rigged so as to not trigger the operating system’s inbuilt safeguards.

Writing in a Medium Post entitled ‘Gatekeeper Bypass: 2021 Edition’, Owens demonstrates a terrifying method by which an attacker can ‘very easily craft a macOS payload that is not checked by Gatekeeper.’

Once launched, no warning prompts prevent the user from installing just about any dangerous application, which can also communicate with external servers without even triggering App Transport Security (ATS).

The simplicity of the hack, which leverages the fact that scripts placed in Contents / macOS / directory are not checked, has been described by Objective-See as ‘massively bad’ and ‘a doozy’ of a blog post.

GateKeeper itself was originally introduced in 2012 as part of an effort to stop the spread of malware in Mac OS X ‘Lion’ v10.7.5, and was followed by enforced application notarisation in 2020 under macOS 10.15 ‘Catalina’, as Apple required software developers to have apps officially cleared for authorised use.

In response to the discovery, Apple have released macOS Big Sur 11.3 update with ‘improved state management’ that prevents the ‘bypass’ of Gatekeeper checks, and are urging macOS users to install the upgrade.

 

For Cybersecurity expertise and support, please contact our team today.


Apple M1 Silicon Chips in New Macs

Apple have announced a new range of Mac devices with Apple M1 Silicon Chips. iPad and iPhone devices have used Apple’s own ‘A’ chips for some time, but M1 will be the first Apple chipset in macOS devices – which previously used Intel chips under license.

M1 is expected to show exceptional performance – with the 8-core CPU matching comparable PC laptop performance while using only 25% of the power, and able to deliver over twice the speed of comparable PC laptop CPU performance at maximum power levels.

new macos devices

Apple claim this makes the newest generation of devices – the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini – faster than 90% of PCs sold in the last year.

Autumn 2020 sees the release of macOS Big Sur, the latest update to Apple’s Mac operating system, which has been optimised for the M1 chipset and its integrated graphics – as well as offering new app features such as universality for all Mac apps across all M1 devices, and offering iOS/iPadOS apps vis macOS.

 

For Apple expertise and support, please contact our team today.

 


Apple introduces macOS Big Sur with a beautiful new design

macOS 11.0 Big Sur, unveiled in June 2020 at WWDC, is the newest version of macOS, set to be released this Autumn.

macOS Big Sur elevates the most advanced desktop operating system in the world to a new level of power and beauty.   Delivering their biggest design upgrade since the introduction of Mac OS X. Experience and enjoy Mac to the fullest, with a refined new design and the biggest Safari update ever.  Discover new features for Maps and Messages and get even more transparent around your privacy.

Mac OS X is finally finished, with Apple confirming that it’s officially moving to macOS 11 after almost 20 years of OS X (or macOS 10).  This fall, users will finally be upgrading from the 10.X versions that Apple has been using for nearly two decades to version 11.0.  It’s ‘MacOS’ from now on, much like ‘iOS’ and ‘iPadOS’.

Safari Updates

Safari is packed with new features, including a customisable start page, elegantly designed and more powerful tabs, quick and easy translation, and a new Privacy Report.  A new weekly Privacy Report on your start page shows how Safari protects your browsing across all the websites you visit.  Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.

In the biggest update to Safari since its original launch in 2003, the world’s fastest browser is even faster, providing industry-leading speed and battery life.  Tabs have been entirely redesigned to make navigating with Safari faster and more powerful by showing more tabs onscreen.  Displaying favicons by default to easily identify open tabs, and giving users a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.

Other newly Updated features

The updated Messages app lets Mac users send and receive more personal and expressive messages, and easily keep track of and interact within group messages. Maps also offers an all-new experience with immersive features for exploring and navigating the world.

macOS Big Sur delivers a spacious new design that makes navigation easier, while putting more controls at users’ fingertips.  Overhauling everything from the curvature of window corners to colours and dock icon designs.   A refreshed Dock displays thoughtfully designed icons that are both uniform and consistent in shape to match others in the Apple ecosystem.  Buttons and controls for apps appear when needed, and disappear when not in use.  The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and centre.

The customisable menu bar features a new Control Centre, delivering instant access to the controls used most, from the desktop.  And a new design for core apps brings more organisation to multiple open windows and makes interacting with apps even easier.

macOS Big Sur is available to developers, with Apple planning to make a public beta available to public beta testers next month. When it launches in the fall, macOS Big Sur will be a free update for all compatible Mac models.

 

For Apple device expertise and IT Support, please contact our team today.


macOS Catalina Released

Apple have released MacOS Catalina, 2019’s update to the Mac’s leading operating system.

Catalina introduces a number of new features, including ’Sidecar’ dual display, new media systems, Mac Catalyst for developers and Screen Time activity monitoring.

Although we say it every year, the endless march towards a unified Mac/iPad operating system feels another step closer: macOS Catalina introduces ‘Sidecar’ – which allows an iPad to be the secondary monitor for your MacBook. In addition to being a smart productivity trick for those needing extra screen space, the iPad is able to perform new functions such as an extra high-resolution display for those with impaired vision.

MacOS Catalyst, released in the latest version, also makes it easier for app developers to publish their apps across both MacOS and iPadOS operating systems, with the implication being that Apple see the devices as very much part of the same software universe.

Apple have shuffled their media services options around this year – replacing iTunes with new services named Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. In addition, the new Apple Arcade gaming subscription service has been launched, with a fixed-subscription service for an unlimited package of games.

Screen Time introduces activity monitoring, with either productivity or parental control clearly in Apple’s sights. Downtime allows users to share time away from the screen, categories or individual apps, and includes shared visibility across multiple apple devices.

As always, it’s worth waiting a short time for others to discover any early release-bugs in the new operating system update, before updating promptly.

 

For Apple device expertise and IT Support, please contact our team today.


The power of mac taken further with macOS Catalina

Due out this Autumn (2019) is macOS Catalina – Apple’s latest new operating system for the Mac range.

MacOS Catalina is currently in Beta, so it’s unclear exactly how the final update will look. However it appears once again that Apple are increasingly blurring the boundary between Mac and iPad, as well as doubling-down on a rich media experience:

…MacOS Catalina gives you more of everything you love about Mac. Experience music, TV and podcasts in three all-new Mac apps. Enjoy your favourite iPad apps now on your Mac. Extend your workspace and expand your creativity with iPad and Apple Pencil.  Discover smart new features in the apps you use every day.  You can now take everything you do above and beyond.  With macOS Catalina, the apps you love are now more beautiful and intelligent making your everyday tasks easier than ever.”

Apple’s decision to replace iTunes also receives its own sales pitch as part of the new operating system’s roll-out:

… iTunes forever changed the way people experienced music, films, TV programmes and podcasts. It all changes again with three all-new, dedicated apps — Music, Apple TV and Apple Podcasts — each designed from the ground up to be the best way to enjoy entertainment on your Mac. And rest assured: everything you had in your iTunes library is still accessible in each app. iCloud seamlessly syncs everything across your devices — or you can back up, restore and sync by connecting the device directly to your Mac.”

In addition, some of macOS Mojave’s ‘focus’ tools are being extended, in the hope of making your Mac use more productive – in addition to advanced voice control.

… macOS Catalina brings all your favourite Screen Time features to Mac, giving you greater insight into how you’re spending your time. Monitor usage, schedule downtime, and set limits for both apps and websites across all your devices. Enhanced security features better protect macOS against tampering, helping to ensure that the apps you use are safe, giving you greater control over access to your data, and it’s even easier to find your Mac if it’s lost or stolen.”

Apple is expected to release macOS Catalina free of charge to all users, and is currently in a testing phase. We do not recommend Apple users seek to move to Catalina just yet, as final version bugs may still be identified during the public beta.

 

For Apple hardware, expertise and support, contact Lineal today


Preview: macOS Mojave

Due out this Autumn (2018) is macOS Mojave – Apple’s latest new operating system for the Mac range.

Named after the arid desert in the Western United States made famous by movies of the same genre, macOS Mojave has been widely pitched as a usability update with a range of new features designed to make it easier for users to stay ‘focused’.

Headlining Mojave will be the new system-wide ‘dark mode’, allowing users to swap between lighter or darker macOS theme to make their Mac less sleep-disruptive and easier on the eye, particularly at night-time.

Far from just being a black background however, Mojave rather artfully adjusts the entire theme and default background through a gentle ‘morning/day/evening/night’ cycle.

There are plenty of new tools too: the desktop can now sort files by type using ‘stakcs’, search by image, and quick edit PDFs and screenshots via Preview.

The tech giant, which recently became the world’s first trillion-dollar company, has also been rumored to be planning new MacBook Air, and Mac Mini devices for release later this year, both of which would coincide neatly with a fresh operating system with the theme of keeping macOS a highly ‘convenient’ system for all settings.

The MacBook Air hasn’t been fully refreshed since its launch in 2010, and the Mac Mini since 2014. While the former occupies a crowded space of various other MacBook and iPad sizes, the latter is long overdue for a replacement.

In a possible nod to the limited physical space where such devices might be used, Mojave can also detect photos automatically from your iPhone and insert the image on your desktop app, into a document or file.

However, an additional update, which Apple initially suggested would allow FaceTime video conversations expand to include up to 32 participants, has been bumped back to a later release.

Apple’s ninth Mojave beta was recently released for public testing, indicating that the full autumn release to the wider public is now not far away.

 

For Apple hardware, expertise and support, contact Lineal today

 


Apple fixes MacOS Root Password security blunder

Apple have issued a fix for yesterday’s severe security alert, after it emerged the tech giant’s High Sierra operating system would allow access to many users’ MacOS Root User without entering a password.

The story caused alarm around the world, as Mac users discovered full administrator control of their device was available to anyone within reach of the keyboard.

Discovered by a Turkish developer who tweeted it to Apple Support, Lemi Ergin, the widely publicised fault is believed to affect all Apple MacOS devices (such as the iMac and MacBook ranges) running version 10.13.1 or newer.

Mr Ergin has since published an article on Medium defending his decision to flag the vulnerability publicly, arguing that despite the security flaw being public knowledge on the Apple Developer Forum since 13th November, Apple had failed for resolve the issue.

Yesterday Lineal published guidance to all our Mac clients, advising caution over the physical security of Apple hardware, and explaining the need for users to set a new root password to temporarily secure their Mac while Apple worked on a security fix.

Security update 2017-001 is now available via the App Store, and Apple have even taken the almost unprecedented step of forcing 10.13.1 devices to update automatically.

MacOS root

The failure to set a random default MacOS root password (a fundamental technical security feature) once again calls into question the recent competence of Apple’s historically excellent quality control and product testing, and may slow the adoption of the firm’s latest flagship operating system. The widespread media publicity surrounding the story is also likely to undermine Apple’s long-held reputation for security on Mac devices.

Apple issued an apology, stating ‘We greatly regret this error and apologise to all Mac users.”

 

For Apple assistance and support, contact Lineal’s IT team today.


Apple macOS High Sierra reaches new heights

Apple’s second beta of macOS High Sierra has been made available to testers, following initial unveiling at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Early indications point to High Sierra being a heavily-media themed update to Apple’s most recent operating system. In addition to the new Apple File System (APFS) already in use on your iPhone’s media-heavy storage, a new ‘High Efficiency Video Codec’ and compatibility with Virtual Reality technology is being introduced.

All the additions have been made with the dominance of flash-based SSD storage in mind, and the mind-boggling files sizes now generated by visual media. HEVC in particular will compress high-quality video more than 40% more than previous codecs, helping save space on your ever-slimmer MacBook. 

Metal 2 adds new under-the-hood abilities to each Mac’s GPU to support machine learning and VR, as well as external device GPUs for the peripherals required to support these mediums.

The ‘elevated’ generation of updates to macOS software also includes speed and privacy additions to various default apps, including Safari. Developers have tinkered with the controls and abilities of Apple photos to make it more intuitive, and users can look forward to a little more humanity from Siri.

Apple is expected to release macOS High Sierra in the Autumn free of charge to all users, although (with caution) technically capable enthusiasts can be among the first to try the beta here.

Lineal have more than 30 years of Apple expertise: contact us today.


Lineal Reviews: macOS Sierra – should I upgrade?

Sierra

Should I be upgrading to macOS Sierra?

With Apple’s latest OS, Sierra, now available for download and already receiving it’s first update (10.12.1) what do our team think of the latest version – and what are our favourite additions? If El-Capitan’s endless prompt messages haven’t already tempted you, we review some of the best below.


Siri

Siri

Siri makes her (or his? Different voices are available in your mac’s system preferences case this is the kind of thing that bothers you…) debut on Apple’s machines, with all the normal features available on iOS iPhones and iPads: web searches, booking diary appointments, starting calls, messages and more, all by asking Siri.

It’s surprisingly innovative too. We can launch our SQLWorks software by instructing Siri to do so, although it requires us to enunciate S-Q-L Works quite carefully.


Tabs

Many applications can now be run in a tabbed view much like a web browser. This is very useful if you need multiple documents, maps, virtual machines or remote access windows running at once, without constantly moving things around to free up screen space.

Sierra


Universal Clipboard

Copy from your Mac, paste on your iPhone or vice versa. If you own multiple Apple devices signed in to your iCloud account, this can be really useful. This feature is overdue on Apple devices, so it’s good to see it introduced in Sierra.


Archiving

iCloud will now look through your files to check for files that are used very infrequently and will archive them automatically to prevent them taking up space. If you use iCloud a lot, this will help do some essential housekeeping for you.

Much like with universal clipboard and the ability to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch, it feels like Apple are now designing with the assumption that it’s fans will own multiple Apple devices.


Despite all these features, the usual warnings apply of course: no one can guarantee that older versions of software will be compatible on Sierra (indeed Microsoft Exchange bugs involving non-syncing email were hurredly fixed in Sierra’s first update)  so it’s best to let someone else take the risk first, and wait a little while for any bugs to be fixed – before updating from El Capitan to the best MacOS yet.

For Apple help and support – click here.


MacOS Sierra will bring Siri to your Mac

Sierra

Apple’s voice activated assistant Siri will be available on macOS Sierra from this Autumn it was revealed, following an announcement at the Worldwide Developers Conference this week.

MacOS Sierra, the upcoming and re-branded version of Apple’s trademark desktop operating system, also looks set to introduce Apple Watch assisted login, intelligent storage-optimisation tools and cross-device copy & pasting.

Longstanding Apple fans will note that the re-branded name, ‘macOS’ returns Apple’s OS X operating system to it’s original desktop computing name.

One major shift will be the release of the new ‘Apple File System’, which Apple have advertised through developer preview will permit multiple file systems to share a storage block, and includes a cloning system which writes changes to file copies to limit demanding data synchronisation.

Evidence has also surfaced that iOS will soon include a ‘dark mode’ optimised for night-time use – a feature so far restricted to Apple Maps used when driving – but potentially extended to overall iPhone/iPad use.

As always, Lineal advises Apple users to wait for early operating system issues to be ironed out this Autumn, before making the jump to macOS Sierra themselves.

For Apple expertise and IT support: please contact Lineal today – [email protected] or 01271 375999