On the 5by5 podcast The Talk Show, John Gruber postulated that Apple wouldn’t force users to only install Mac App Store apps, but that they might make a setting that you could change. He wasn’t wrong. There is an app for that.
What it is
Gatekeeper in OS X Mountain Lion helps prevent you from unknowingly downloading and installing malicious software. And it gives you control over which applications to download and run on your Mac. Now you can choose from three security options. Gatekeeper lets you decide which setting is best for you.
Apple isn’t forcing this on anyone. We don’t know yet what the default settings will be, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they were for maximum security Mac App Store installs only.
This isn’t really a problem for most. However, what you set as the default, for the most part, remains the active setting for the majority of users.
You control what you install.
For maximum security, you can install and run only apps from the Mac App Store. You can choose to install and run apps from the Mac App Store and apps that have a Developer ID. Or you can install all apps from anywhere, just as you can today. You can even temporarily override your setting by Control-clicking, and install any app at any time. Gatekeeper leaves it all up to you.
So the settings allow you to turn off all installations except for the Mac App Store. Not surprising. The second level: Developer ID, is the most interesting.
Apple wants to help you steer clear of malware even when you download applications from places other than the Mac App Store. That’s why Apple created the Developer ID. As part of the Mac Developer Program, Apple gives developers a unique Developer ID for signing their apps.
Why it’s good
Administrators of Macs everywhere will rejoice. Macs have historically had next to no problem with malware. However, I’ve learned from experience, that people can still find a way to mess their computer up.
As Macs become more popular, it seems that malware too is also growing. It’s not an epidemic by any stretch. However, it is good that Apple is creating something that basically takes Malware out of the picture entirely.
It’s not just about system admins, and little kids. As John Gruber pointed out, this is ‘Parental Settings’ at it’s finest. Children everywhere will rejoice when they flip the switch for their parent’s iMacs.