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Secure Your Mac: What's new in Leopard security?

Scott McNulty

Mac users everywhere are salivating over the approaching release of Leopard (this humble blogger counts himself amongst that number). We all know about the flashy new additions to the OS that Leopard will bring, but what about security?

Apple has a whole section detailing the new security features in Leopard on their huge list of 300+ features to be found in the new OS. The highlights from the security list are:

  • Tagging downloaded Apps: This feature seems to be what Microsoft was trying to do with Vista. The first time you launch a downloaded app Leopard will ask you if you really want to run this app and display from whence this app came (so if you see it was downloaded for a wacky URL you can cancel launching it).
  • Application specific firewall: You can set the firewall to allow or refuse connections per app.
  • Library Randomization: Places system libraries in randomly assigned memory addresses.

Interesting there are a few other security enhancements scattered about some other areas of Leopard:

  • Custom access privileges for shared folders: Leopard lets you share folders, which you can do now, but also makes it easy to assign differing levels of access per shared folder. You can also use your contacts in Address Book to control access.
  • Airport Menu: The Airport Menu now tells you if the WiFi networks you're connecting to is secured. The more you know, kids, the more you know.
  • Activity Logging: This feature is both a little creepy, and secure! The best kind, if you ask me. Part of the new set of Parental Controls, though I assume you can use this to track folks other than kids, Activity Logging will log what websites a user visits, who chats with them, what apps are used, and saves a transcript of any chats.
  • Guest Log-In Accounts: Right at this moment you can create a guest account with limited permissions, so any of your friends can use your Mac without having unfettered access to your documents. Leopard has a built in feature that allows you to create Guest Accounts which purge their contents when your guest logs out. The Desktop won't be cluttered with files, Mail won't have someone else's setting waiting, and people won't come to think of the Guest Account as 'their account.'

Did I miss anything? Sound off in the comments.

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