Automatic daily security updates coming for OS X Mountain Lion

Mountain LionThe new version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, is just around the corner and contains a feature which should go down well with security-minded end users.

AppleInsider reports that one of the new features included in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is automatic security updates.

That means that you will be able to configure any Macs you have that are running Mountain Lion to automatically check Apple’s update servers on a daily basis (or when the computer is restarted) to see if a security update is available, and apply it without user interaction.

Of course, most days it is unlikely that Apple will have released a security update – but for those times when they have, this feature will hopefully reduce the window of opportunity for malicious hackers to exploit any vulnerabilities in OS X.

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Updates to OS X Mountain Lion

At its recent WWDC event, Apple revealed that its newest range of laptops are coming with a “PowerNap” feature, allowing security updates to be downloaded while the rest of the computer is in sleep mode.

This, alongside the removal of requiring the user to give permission for a security patch to be installed, should ensure that more Macs are kept more up-to-date.

Anything which makes that attack window smaller has to be good news for Mac users. So, well done Apple.

One thing that is interesting is that Apple claims to also be introducing a more secure connection to its update servers with Mountain Lion. Earlier this month it was revealed that the Flame malware had used a “man-in-the-middle” attack against the Windows update system.

Of course, in business environments the concept of automatic, silent updates to the Mac operating system may be less popular. Often organisations prefer to test a security update before rolling it out across a large number of computers, in case there are bugs or conflicts.

Furthermore, companies may not like the idea of lots of their Mac computers individually pulling down hefty security updates and gobbling up their internet bandwidth.

Presumably Apple will provide mechanisms for businesses to handle these issues when OS X ships next month.

Image credit: AppleInsider

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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