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Mac® Security Bible by Joe Kissell

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1.2. Major Mac OS X Security Features

Macs aren't necessarily as safe as some people may think. Nevertheless, Apple has worked very hard to make Mac OS X as secure a computing environment as possible, and each major release of Mac OS X has included significant security improvements.

Some ways of securing your Mac require that you add third-party software or hardware. But right out of the box, a Mac running Leopard, Snow Leopard, or the server version of either has quite a few security features built in. Some of these work invisibly, behind the scenes, whereas others have an overt user interface.

Most security features work only when you turn them on or explicitly use them, and the Mac OS X default settings aren't nearly as secure as they could be. (I return to this matter later in this chapter.) But at least the capabilities themselves are there.

A comprehensive list would be quite long, and the remaining chapters of this book delve into many security features not mentioned here. But the following are some of the most important and useful security features of Mac OS X.

1.2.1. Open-source infrastructure

Unlike Windows, which is built largely from proprietary code that only Microsoft engineers can see, the Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X are open source. Thousands of engineers from around the world have examined, prodded, and tried to break it over the years — which is a good thing! Having large portions of the Mac OS X code open to public scrutiny greatly increases the chances ...

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