Apple's Mountain Lion: more control for you or over you?

Gatekeeper is the new security feature introduced by Apple for the new (Mac) OS X update known as Mountain Lion. The idea is to enforce security for downloaded applications when users try to install them on their Apple PCs, but some critics described the feature as the beginning of the end for the user’s proper ownership of the OS behaviour and functionality on Apple machines.

Pretty ironically, this somewhat harsh criticism comes from a company working in the security field – the same one Apple is trying to cover more than ever within its latest consumer (and consumption) oriented products: on its corporate blog, Finnish antivirus company F-Secure dissects Gatekeeper and exposes some interesting findings about it.

The new OS X security feature restricts installation of Mac “apps” based on their sources, F-Secure explains, allowing applications downloaded “from Mac App Store”, “Mac App Store and identified developers” or “Anywhere”.

Under the new Gatekeeper regime, F-Secure states, Mac software developers will be pushed to sign with Apple ($99 per year) “to reduce friction”. And even if the user allowed installations of software downloaded “Anywhere”, The Developer ID program suggests that Gatekeeper could complain about the install operation anyway.

According to F-Secure, Gatekeeper is beginning “to solidify Mac’s walled garden”: “In the future – the F-Secure blog states – when Apple decides to further close its platform, device drivers could also be required to use Apple Developer IDs. Apple is famous for its focus on user experience, and it isn’t really very difficult to imagine it revoking third-party peripheral drivers in order to ‘secure’ that experience”.

Gatekeeper isn’t as much about more control “for” you, F-Secure concludes, as "more control – over – you".

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