The il­lu­sion of se­cu­rity is over

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

I orig­i­nally bought my first Mac many moons ago be­cause I was sick of the viruses and worms that were in­fect­ing Win­dows ap­pli­ca­tions at the time (and still are, from what I can gather). But now it seems that Ap­ple apps are no safer be­cause hack­ers have in­fected the de­vel­op­ers them­selves. Is there any way left for us to tell if an app is safe? Or do we need to give up and move to Linux? Arthur Tando

I pre­sume that you are re­fer­ring to the XcodeGhost se­cu­rity breach, which in­volved a mod­i­fied version of the XCode com­piler that de­vel­op­ers use to cre­ate apps for OS X and iOS. The tam­pered-with version was up­loaded to a Chi­nese file shar­ing site, and some oth­er­wise re­spectable de­vel­op­ers down­loaded their copy of XCode from there, be­cause it had faster down­load speeds than Ap­ple’s own site.

This ex­ploit only af­fected iOS and mostly af­fected Chi­nese apps (WeChat is prob­a­bly the high­est pro­file af­fected app out­side China). So the OS X apps on your Mac were never in­fected by this par­tic­u­lar threat. The­o­ret­i­cally, they could have been, of course, and there will be other se­cu­rity flaws in the fu­ture that will af­fect OS X, that much is cer­tain.

How­ever, good com­puter se­cu­rity isn’t about hid­ing be­hind an im­pen­e­tra­ble wall. It’s about ed­u­cat­ing your­self to the pos­si­ble threats, so you know how se­ri­ously to take them and what pre­cau­tions are rea­son­able. The App Store is still by far the safest place to get your soft­ware and I don’t ex­pect that to change soon.

Don’t let scare sto­ries put you off – Ap­ple’s app stores are still the safest place to buy soft­ware.

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