The latest iteration of Apple’s computer Operating System, macOS 11.3, launched earlier today, alongside iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, tvOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4.
According to Mashable, there’s a lot more to the update than gaming keyboard layouts and new intuitive features — macOS 11.3 comes with a fix for a critical (yet largely unreported) security vulnerability that is actively being exploited to sneak malicious software past macOS’s security protocols.
The following is an excerpt from an official Apple Support page:
When a user downloads and opens an app, a plug-in, or an installer package from outside the App Store, Gatekeeper verifies that the software is from an identified developer, is notarized by Apple to be free of known malicious content, and hasn’t been altered.
Gatekeeper also requests user approval before opening downloaded software for the first time to make sure the user hasn’t been tricked into running executable code they believed to simply be a data file.”
According to offensive security engineer Cedric Owens who originally discovered the vulnerability, it is a logic flaw that can be used to sneak malicious applications like ransomware, malware, and keyloggers past Apple’s File Quarantine and Notarization protocols.
Kudos to Apple for quickly fixing the bug I reported to them. Here is my blog that delves into how I weaponized this bug with a payload: https://t.co/Bj8bQbpLx5. Thanks @patrickwardle for helping dive into the vuln as well 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/tnMo3is0K8
— Cedric Owens (@cedowens) April 26, 2021
Apple says the flaw also allows malicious software to bypass the display of the Gatekeeper dialogue box. Hackers, criminals, and even governments have previously been able to exploit this vulnerability to penetrate Mac users’ computers.
Security researchers and software developers have already confirmed the existence of malware out in the wild that’s designed specifically to take advantage of this security flaw.
An Apple spokesperson was able to confirm that macOS 11.3 ships with a patch for this specific vulnerability, and fixes the underlying issues that allowed for its existence in the first place.
For their own safety, Mac users should get to downloading macOS 11.3 right away. The new update even comes with Apple’s new ‘Hello’ screensaver.