Lion bares security claws

February 27, 2011

Despite the fact that few if any Mac users have actually been affected by malware, Apple gets a lot of grief for not taking security seriously. Nevertheless, the mothership is building new security features into its next-generation computer operating system, Mac OS X Lion, which some of among us refer to as version 10.7.

MacFixIt among a host of others reports that Apple’s just released Mac OS X Lion developer preview includes some significant changes to security. In general, these are features that others implemented years ago, but their integration in OS X and Cupertino’s discrete applications marks a significant change for the company:

      • New malware detection and blocking options, like Google Safe Browsing in Safari

      • Expansion of Snow Leopard’s XProtect malware protection into a full-service malware scanner

      • Lion is expected to incorporate more memory address randomization, which stores active processes in random locations in memory and making it harder for exploits, such as buffer overflows
      — Extension of this facility to third-party apps would be very, very helpful

      • Additional process sandboxing in the OS, a feature used in Safari and other browsers to prevent Flash, etc. from crashing, a common hacker attack vector

      • Tweaks to the built-in firewall, Filevault and log-in session limitations currently used Snow Leopard

Although I’m not interested in living like our Windows PC friends — endless OS warnings, ever present antivirus software, confusing update processes, etc. — Apple could be doing more to improve Mac security and the above is a judicious start…

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