Now that you know how to access the insides of installer packages, it's crucial to learn how to read this information in order to make sure that what you're installing on your Mac is safe. At the top of the Suspicious Package window, you'll get a quick look at the name of the installer, the package signature, the amount of scripts that will run, the size of the file, and the last time it was modified.
Out of all the information in this section, the one you want to focus on is the package signature, which is what OS X uses to help protect users from installing malicious software.
One of Most Popular Mac Apps Acts Like Spyware
In the screenshot below, you can see that the package was signed with a valid Developer ID certificate hence the badge in grey , issued to a third-party developer by Apple, which allows the developer to distribute their software without having to use the Mac App Store. Over on their FAQ page , you can check out a few of the signature types that you should look out for, including four that are trusted in grey and blue and three that are not trusted in red.
If the package you want to install has a signature type with a red badge, don't install it. Other indicators for malicious activity are the installed files found at the bottom of the Suspicious Package window. Depending on the size of the package, you might have just one file or many, which you can see below. Check this section thoroughly for any files that might seem suspicious in regards to the type of app you're installing.
If you're installing a music player, for example, you know something is fishy if you see that "Bing Toolbar" is being installed too.
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With Suspicious Installer and all of the existing security features on your Mac, you'll never have to worry about installing any malicious files again. Don't Miss: Share Your Thoughts Click to share your thoughts.
Hot Latest. How To: Because it's a top app from the Mac App store, people likely grant that permission, assuming trustworthiness.
But Wardle found that once the app has this permission, it quickly starts trying to collect user data in a way that violates both their privacy and Apple's rules. Mac apps are siloed from each other, and from the operating system, in containers called "sandboxes," which keep programs from being able to access more than they need to function.
Apple helps you keep your Mac secure with software updates.
But Adware Doctor uses the permissions users grant it to collect data, and then finds ways to get around some sandbox protections. Particularly, Wardle says the program tries different tactics to get information about the other software running on a user's computer. Some programs, like trustworthy antivirus scanners, use this capability safely and legitimately, but App Store apps aren't supposed to be able to access it from inside their sandboxes.
And while macOS already has built-in defenses to defeat some of Adware Doctor's attempts, the app can ultimately gather a list of running programs and processes through a system application programming interface.
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To make matters worse, Wardle says the code Adware Doctor uses to build its list of running processes—which an attacker could use to gain information about a target's activities and network—is taken from examples Apple publishes as part of its documentation materials. Apple exudes this hubris that 'hey, we have this all figured out, you can trust us.
Adware Doctor also turns out to have pushed the boundaries for years. Reed says that Malwarebytes originally started tracking it in , when it was called Adware Medic, which was also the name of a legitimate scanner Reed had developed.
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Malwarebytes notified Apple and the company removed the app, but Reed says it resurfaced in the App Store within days as Adware Doctor. But the new findings from Privacy 1st indicate that the app may have recently added expanded suspicious functionality through an update. Adware Doctor also rides on a common strategy of posing as a security product to seem more trustworthy and gain the deeper system permissions that come with being a scanning tool.
Apple doesn't allow most legitimate antivirus scanners into the App Store, though, because they require too much system access and can't comply with the App Store's more restrictive sandbox requirements. And this is likely confusing for users, who might naturally assume that the App Store is the best place to download security tools.
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Wardle and Reed both say that they support the general concept and mission of the Mac App Store, and they appreciate Apple's efforts to vet apps. But they both note that Apple may not audit app updates as thoroughly as they do initial app submissions, and they note that Apple could improve the App Store simply by responding more quickly to researcher concerns. For now, Wardle says that since Privacy 1st publicized his findings on Adware Doctor last week, the app has shifted to take the server that was receiving user data offline.
Wardle notes that Apple's lack of responsiveness is a particularly bad look in this situation, since Adware Doctor is a top-selling app in the App Store, and Apple gets a cut of every app's earnings. If they pulled the app and then refunded customers' money that would help to illustrate their commitment to safety in the App Store. Though malicious apps aren't unprecedented in the App Store, it's unusual for such a widely-downloaded app to come under scrutiny.
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