Server failure unearths massive macOS tracking plans

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Askobol)

More serious doubts have been raised about Apple's snooping tactics following fresh revelations about the company's macOS software. We’ve already reported how apps in the latest release of macOS can bypass firewalls and VPNs and how the release was bricking some older MacBook Pro machines

Security researcher Jeffrey Paul now claims that it was all a result of a hiccup in Apple’s operation to log all the activity of its users. In a detailed post Jeffrey claims that not just Big Sur but on all “modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored.” 

In what can be construed as an admission of guilt, Apple has since promised to take steps to control the privacy leaks.

Seal to leak

Jeffrey claims that other researchers have shared that Apple has been tracking users probably since the release of macOS Mojave in 2018. But while users could previously render the tracking ineffective using VPNs, the latest macOS Big Sur release introduced new network filter technologies that circumvents these protections. 

In other words, Jeffrey argues, even using a VPN won’t shield your location from Apple’s tracking. The problem is further compounded by Apple’s new M1-powered Macs won’t run anything earlier than macOS Big Sur. 

Apple claims that what Jeffrey perceived as spying was just its Gatekeeper security feature verifying the authenticity of the apps to make sure the users aren’t being tricked to run malware disguised as legitimate apps.

It further says it’ll now encrypt this communication and give users the option to disable these checks and that it has “never combined data from these checks with information about Apple users or their devices”. 

Jeffrey remains to be convinced. He’s appended his original post to counter Apple’s claims and has published more details in the form of a FAQ.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.