updated 06:00 pm EDT, Mon June 25, 2012
Automatically checks for security updates
Apple today has issued a Security Update add-on for its existing Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 which adds both new security update checking as well as providing for a more secure Software Update for updates generally. The add-on is rolled into an entirely new version of Mountain Lion DP 4 that also includes various bug fixes and is 1.16GB in size. This is the second update to Developer Preview 4 since its release at WWDC earlier this month.
Once installed, the system will check on a daily basis for new security updates and download them in the background. Users can opt to be notified when a new security update has been downloaded, and choose to have the updates installed on next restart or simply do so automatically. The move to make security updates more-or-less mandatory, plus the more secure connection to Apple's servers, seeks to make Software Update a first line of defense against an increasing number of malware programs that are either adapted from PC attacks or specifically targeting perceived exploits in OS X.
The new feature is on top of other security changes by Apple of late, including an expansion of the automatic built-in XProtect malware detector already found in Snow Leopard and Lion, the sandboxing of applications to prevent malware spreading, and the Gatekeeper feature to ensure that users have a foolproof option to protect themselves from accidentally downloading malware that looks legitimate.
Though OS X remain free of viruses, lesser malware programs such as DNS redirects and Trojan Horse software -- such as the Flashback Java exploit and various critical security woes stemming from Adobe's Flash software on Macs and Windows machines -- have become more prominent, though still rare.