Using the Apple ecosystem can be a mixed experience. When everything is working, Apple’s products are a joy to use and are able to interlink in innovative ways. Apple also have an excellent reputation for its security and privacy policies.
But they are not perfect. MacOS is still susceptible to a number of vulnerabilities. Users need to be proactive about their cybersecurity. Attackers are finding even more sophisticated ways of identifying us and compromising our accounts. Even something as simple as your IP address can be useful data to a hacker. A small step like setting up a proxy on your Mac, can help you connect to the internet securely. In this article, we will take a look at some of the ongoing vulnerabilities that MacOS users should be aware of. We will also go over some basic but effective security tips that any user can take advantage of.
Code Execution Vulnerabilities
This type of vulnerability is becoming more and more common as time goes on. Attackers love code execution vulnerabilities because they can execute them remotely. They are also very powerful from the attacker’s perspective.
This type of vulnerability represents a severe risk. It enables an attacker to bypass authentication and run any code they please. A skilled attacker can do this covertly, leaving the user none the wiser.
Security researchers found a vulnerability of this type in Xcode. It is an integrated development environment made by Apple. It features a variety of tools and is the only way to produce iOS apps.
The vulnerability allowed an attacker to execute arbitrary code within the application. This would give the attacker the same privileges as the legitimate logged-in user. If the logged-in user had administrative privileges, the attacker could take over everything.
Data is incredibly valuable. We’ve all seen the true potential of data, whether for an altruistic or malicious purpose. It is therefore not surprising that attackers are so keen to steal your data. Of course, hackers would love to get their hands on your bank information and passwords. Hackers can use even seemingly benign data about you to identify you.
In the last few years, security firm F-Secure unveiled a major firmware exploit. This exploit affected nearly every Mac and Windows computer in use. The vulnerability made it possible for an attacker to steal data, even from Mac’s vaunted FileVault.
The researchers based their approach on a type of attack known as a cold boot attack. Attackers use cold boot attacks to harvest data from a computer that isn’t turned on.
Fortunately, this exploit requires physical access to the machine, limiting its impact. However, Mac users shouldn’t overlook it. It is also worth noting that this exploit shows that even FileVault can be defeated.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities that are currently undocumented. For an attacker, a zero-day exploit is a holy grail. These attacks use vulnerabilities that are unknown to the developers, there are no defenses against them.
In 2018, a security researcher discovered a zero-day exploit that only required them to alter a few lines of code. This vulnerability exploited a feature of Mac OS that converts keyboard inputs into mouse activity. The exploit emulated a large number of these button presses, overwhelming the system.
By their very nature, zero-day attacks can’t be defended against. However, Apple has a good track record of pushing out security updates promptly after the discovery of major bugs.
Best Ways Keep Your Mac Secure
When it comes to security, Apple has an advantage over Microsoft. Every new generation of Macs is made from the same hardware and runs the same operating system. Windows machines vary wildly in their configurations, there’s no way a developer can account for all the possibilities. But Macs all use the same basic configuration. This makes it easier for Apple to maintain a secure ecosystem and to respond to new threats.
As long as you take the time to configure your Mac’s settings with security in mind, you should be ok. Let’s take a look at some of the simplest things you can do to keep your Mac secure.
- Disable Automatic Login: This is pretty self-explanatory, but automatic login will log your mac on to the primary account when it boots up without any need for a password. The time you save not typing your password is not worth the security trade-off.
- Require Password to Unlock System Preferences: If someone can change your system settings, they can easily undermine your security. Requiring a password ensures you stay in control.
- Keep Your System Updated: Apple releases new security updates regularly. You should keep automatic updating on to ensure that you are always using the most secure version.
- Use a Password Manager: Using the same password, no matter how secure, for every service is a bad idea. Apple’s keychain is great for remembering passwords. you can use a password manager to access passwords on non-Apple devices.
- Enable Find My Mac: Find My Mac works just like the Find My iPhone app that many of you will be familiar with. You can access the Find My Mac feature from any web browser in order to access your Mac remotely. This allows you to track it, take a photo with the camera and even wipe the hard drive.
Apple have an excellent track record when it comes to security. Not only is Mac OS a secure operating system, but Apple reacts quickly to new threats, neutralizing them as soon as possible. Make sure that you keep your system updated and that you carefully read through the available security options.