New vulnerabilities threaten Mac OS X security

Proponents of the Mac ecosystem may have long boasted about its greater security compared to Windows, but that era seems to be coming to an end, as new vulnerabilities are uncovered, with several alarming cases in the last few days.

The main weakness comes in the list of files that are allowed to change Mac system settings without needing your password or approval first. A researcher announced this weakness publicly, without giving Apple time to respond or create a fix. Malware has already been created that uses this vulnerability to potentially wreak havoc on your Mac.

Attacking programs can start producing unwanted pop-up adverts, and change your search engine to one of their choosing that will provide malware laden websites or dubious adverts in response to searches. It can also get you to download more malware to increase the rates of infection.

Even worse, there are proofs of concept by security researchers that allow these attacks to write to the Mac’s firmware. If they do this, then if you try to reinstall the operating system to get rid of the malware, it will just reappear. Experimental software can also infect devices attached to your Mac, to prolong the infection even further.

As of writing, Apple has yet to fix the vulnerability, but a patch is expected within days to resolve this issue. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more holes in the Mac OS X that will be used by hackers to try and break the Mac’s usual bulletproof security.

In the meantime, avoid clicking on any suspicious links, visiting unusual websites, or downloading software from irregular sources. While Macs generally remain more secure than Windows PCs, this weakness and a mistake by the user could easily see a Mac become infected. Common sense is key in avoiding this problem.

If your Mac becomes infected, or you have other issues with your Mac hardware, our computer support London service can help sort out any problems. We also provide Apple repairs in the London area.