It is always claimed that the Mac stays unaffected by viruses. Well, practically it is not possible! All the devices are prone to get infected, and with the advancement of technology, nothing is impossible!
MacOS do get infected, however, this is also a fact that MacOS comes with inbuilt protection against Malware. These methods are quite effective sometimes but can be incompetent as well. In this post, we will discuss how MacOS features work to protect against malware.
One of the features is Quarantine. Whenever you download an app on your Mac via the Internet, it is tagged with a Quarantine “flag.” Whenever you try to open such downloaded file, your MacOS will run a handful of checks.
Once the app is verified, MacOS will show a message warning you that you are accessing an app downloaded from the Internet. You need to allow to start using the file if the file is masked as another kind.
When the app is launched the first time, the Quarantine flag will be removed and so will be other checks.
LoopHoles In Quarantine
Though they are some ways by which an app can come to hard drive without being tagged Quarantine flag.
- The torrent apps & downloaders
- If someone copies an app to another Mac once the Quarantine flag has been removed from it.
- Loopholes that allow the formation of files without undergoing legit download methods permit flagless apps on the hard drive
Whenever an app is downloaded from the Internet, a Quarantine flag is tagged to it. One of the first checks is the app’s code signature. A code signature is a piece of cryptographic data that detects the developer of the app and this can be used to check whether the app has been meddled with. It relies on a certificate by Apple which is included with 99 dollars developer account.
In case the signature betokens that the app has been meddled with or the certificate provided by Apple has been revoked, MacOS will not run the app.
LoopHoles In GateKeeper
Sadly, Gatekeeper is not a perfect tool and Quarantine makes it weaker due to the following reasons mentioned above. As Gatekeeper checks are not done for the apps which are not quarantined.
So, if you have a clean app downloaded & installed on your system, it has the potential to download infected processes in the background. And Gatekeeper will not able to check it for code signature as it is not quarantined.
Also, if an app which is installed on your Mac, turns out to be a malicious one and Apple revoked the developer certificate of the same, will continue to run on your Mac as the app is already installed on your Mac.
Also, malware could affect and modify apps on Mac, making malware, very hard to detect.
Also Read: How Malware Affect Your Automobiles?
A basic antimalware feature, XProtect is also a part of protection tools on Mac. This feature is also connected to Quarantine. So, every quarantined app which you try to open run past XProtect. The app opens only if all the rules are met.
LoopHoles In XProtect
Similar to Gatekeeper, XProtect also has some vulnerabilities. One of them is not able to match the app against the rules, if not quarantined.
Another one is you can’t be sure whether it will provide protection against current threats.
Malware Removal Tool
In 2012, hackers used vulnerabilities in Java to attack MacOS, under which, malware can be installed on your Mac by just visiting a website. MacOS was not ready to deal with the issue. Therefore, Apple includes MRT, Malware Removal Tool.
Malware Removal Tool is a black box and nobody knows how it runs, it works silently, without alerting the user. The objective of the tool is to eliminate detected malware.
LoopHoles On MRT
Similar to XProtect, Malware Removal Tool only works on set rules and detects the known malware. There is no information on how these rules work, therefore we can’t determine the capability of the tool. Also, we can’t be sure whether MRT is capable of detecting new malware.
System Integrity Protection
System Integrity Protection doesn’t let the system files get modified. The tool is also called as “Rootless” as the tool don’t allow any user to change a large number of restricted files on your Mac.
If you want to make changes to those files, you need to disable System Integrity Protection, then you need to reboot your Mac and restart in recovery mode and access Terminal. On Terminal, type arcane. However, most of the users would never want to make changes to them.
Loopholes in System Integrity Protection
Due to the restrictions, the tool seems to be an effective one in protecting the system from malicious files. However, it is not true. Before SIP, there was just some malware which was capable of making changes to the files, and now they are protected by SIP.
However, some malware can infect a Mac without using root permissions, which means SIP can’t do anything to protect Mac from malware secretly infecting your Mac upon opening the malicious app.
Transparency, Consent, and Control
Transparency, Consent, and Control is a feature which is recently added to Mac Mojave. It secures user data from outside access. The aim of the feature is to prevent apps from consuming browser history.
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Loopholes in Transparency, Consent, and Control
These continuous request prompt can cause “dialogue fatigue” which could permit apps to reach right past Transparency, Consent, and Control, therefore accessing the data.
So, these are a few features introduced by MacOS over the years to ensure the protection of your Mac. These features have their own vulnerabilities and Apple is working to overcome them and make Mac safer. In meantime, you need to be careful to not let hackers use these loopholes and infect your Mac.