28 Jun “Classic”; Security in Leopard goes leaps and bounds.
Category: Apple

It’s a word we’ve been associating with OS 9. OS X has a ‘Classic’ mode to run legacy OS 9 applications, but we’re looking at a whole new ‘classic’ now.

Security in Leopard has had a roadmap of its own – after several developer builds in 2006, it became apparent that there was a lot of attention from Apple to invest in security; perhaps following the Month of Apple Bugs, but, most likely, to prove that now OS X is gaining is it’s user base, is still ‘the most secure desktop operating system’.

After WWDC ’07, a few things have become more clear to me. What first was a loosely affiliated set of securing elements, has become an extremely intuitive addition to the standard way of doing things. A good example of how flawless these new security-improving additions are, I’ll take an example that’s just freshly new. In Tiger, we get a dialog when we open an application for the first time. It’s an informative dialogue, but it’s not really helping us in terms of finding out where the hell we got it. In Leopard, as you might have seen, there is a new downloading system. Downloads are placed in a new ‘downloads’ folder and in a download stack in the Dock, and even cooler, once you open a downloaded application for the first time, it pops up the same familiar dialogue. However, this time, it also shows where you downloaded it, and when. With a minimal addition, the user’s ability to stay secure has gained a lot.

Another good example are InputManagers. The ‘classic’ Tiger hacks that allow you to modify code at runtime, are disabled by default in Leopard. However, placing an InputManager file in the correct folder prompts you if you want to enable them. Safe by default, perhaps quite to the contrary when you compare it with Tiger.

Overall, there are a lot of things I don’t want to mention or cannot mention because they haven’t been shown in the SteveNote or otherwise broadly carried by the blogosphere. Some of these are so non-obvious that people just don’t bother to find out, I guess. But I can guarantee you that you’re in for a completely new experience once you switch from Tiger to Leopard. And it won’t be like going from XP to Vista; you’ll actually feel like you’re more in control, all the while clicking less buttons to achieve that feeling.

Apple has a very clear message; I think that once Apple is around to releasing Leopard, you can go ahead and write malware; see if it works. In an OS that has code-signing, sandboxing, and other fantastic new hardening efforts all built-in, we’re safe. I think I’ll have some vacation instead of having to write a new “A more secure OS X before 10.6” ;).

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