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Mac Security Article #8 - Gatekeeper

Article ID = 88
Article Title = Mac Security Article #8 - Gatekeeper
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 16th July 2012
Article Last Updated = 14th June 2016
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?88

Article Brief Description:
An explanation of Apple's OS X Gatekeeper technology

Gatekeeper

This article has the following sections:
  1. Gatekeeper (macOS 12 or later)
  2. Gatekeeper (OS X 10.7.5 or later)
  3. Gatekeeper Frequently Asked Questions
It is number eight in a series of MacStrategy security articles.

Gatekeeper (OS X 10.7.5 or later)

Gatekeeper is a security technology included with OS X 10.7.5 or later. It is a System Preference that allows you to control what software is allowed to be installed on your computer. To configure it go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Gatekeeper and choose one of the following settings:
  1. Mac App Store = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store will run (highest security)
  2. Mac App Store and identified developers = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store or that have been digitally signed by an authorised developer will run (medium security - default)
  3. Anywhere = no security and will let you install any software
Mac Security - Gatekeeper System Preferences Gatekeeper checks only applications/installers that are downloaded and quarantined using internet software e.g. email software and web browsers that supports the technology. Thus not every download is quarantined especially if you use non-standard/unusual email/browser applications. Files are not quarantined if they are copied to your Mac using hard drives, CD/DVDs, cloud-storage services e.g. Dropbox or other media/storage devices like USB flash drives. OS X will alert you to quarantined files when you try to open them: Mac Security - Gatekeeper Opening Quarantined Files

Gatekeeper (macOS 12 or later)

Gatekeeper is a security technology included with OS X 10.7.5 or later. It is a System Preference that allows you to control what software is allowed to be installed on your computer. To configure it go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Gatekeeper and choose one of the following settings:
  1. Mac App Store = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store will run (highest security)
  2. Mac App Store and identified developers = only software downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store or that have been digitally signed by an authorised developer will run (medium security - default)
Gatekeeper checks only applications/installers that are downloaded and quarantined using internet software e.g. email software and web browsers that supports the technology. Thus not every download is quarantined especially if you use non-standard/unusual email/browser applications. Files are not quarantined if they are copied to your Mac using hard drives, CD/DVDs, cloud-storage services e.g. Dropbox or other media/storage devices like USB flash drives. OS X will alert you to quarantined files when you try to open them: Mac Security - Gatekeeper Opening Quarantined Files

Gatekeeper Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If I download something and Gatekeeper allows it to run, if I run it again in the future will it check it again?
A. As long as you haven't changed Gatekeeper's settings then no it won't. Gatekeeper only quarantines downloads the first time they are run.
Q. Can I temporarily alter the Gatekeeper setting and install something?
A. Yes but this is not recommended as you may forget to switch Gatekeeper back. There is an easier way to temporarily bypass Gatekeeper for individual applications (see below).
Q. I need to install something. Can I bypass Gatekeeper?
A. Yes, Control clicking (right clicking) the application in the Finder and selecting Open from the contextual menu will give you a special security alert that has the option of clicking "Open" to allow you to bypass Gatekeeper for the one application (see example picture below): Mac Security - Bypassing Gatekeeper
Q. So if Gatekeeper only checks certain downloads, using certain software and it can easily be bypassed does this make my Mac insecure?
A. Gatekeeper enhances the security of your Mac but it is not the be all and end all solution to security. You should not rely on Gatekeeper alone and you should read our entire series of MacStrategy security articles to practise safe computing.
Q. Will Gatekeeper protect me from common internet attacks like Java and Adobe Flash vulnerabilities?
A. No. Review our Networking/Internet/Online Shopping security article.

Article Keywords: Macintosh Mac OS X OSX macOS Security 107 108 109 1010 1011 1012 mountain lion Mavericks Yosemite ElCapitan El Capitan Sierra gatekeeper download downloads downloaded safe safety software install installation developer ID sign signed signing

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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