It appears that Apple has a fresh perspective on security updates, with the iconic Cupertino-based company adding a new automated security update tool in the latest update to its OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview operating system, now only a month away from release.
For many years, those using Macs have had little cause to worry about malware and viruses, but with their rise in popularity, new threats have begun to emerge. Perhaps the best example of this is the highly publicized Flashback Trojan that hit the news in April, after infecting over half a million Macs at its peak before various security firms and finally Apple countered it.
While Flashback is no longer a threat, it damningly highlighted Apple's relaxed policies on security updates. Oracle actually released the patches back in February, and it took Apple until April to release them for OS X, but not until it was front-page news. Their new security patch update tool hopes to address these concerns.
The OS X Security Update tool automatically "calls home" daily to ensure the operating system has the latest security patches to protect itself against known malware and viruses. Interestingly, it appears it will do all of this without any user interaction, running silently in the background ensuring the machine always remains updated.
Their existing update manager will remain for software updates, and will work separately from the new security update software. In order to ensure hackers cannot compromise the connection between Apple's servers and the computer, the security update tool will also use an encrypted connection. Users will also have the option to install all updates automatically, or when the computer is restarted.
While this new feature is certainly a positive step in the right direction, it will rely on Apple actually releasing updates in a timely fashion. Initial signs are good however, especially with the recent follow-up patch for Java, which was sent out to Mac owners the same day as Oracle released it.