Apple’s push towards “trusted computing”
Is there a problem with what Apple’s doing? Not yet, but maybe eventually. Read on.
Mountain Lion will incorporate a “Gatekeeper” which allows users to select their security level:
- Only allow apps from the App Store
- Only allow apps that are digitally signed by a developer (which can be revoked by Apple)
- Allow unsigned apps
Position 2 is the default, where users will only be allowed to install apps that have been signed by a developer whom Apple blesses. To many this is A Good Thing because Apple can revoke a malicious developer’s certificate, disabling their apps. (This is sort of scary to a software developer, even an ethical one.)
I feel that Apple will always allow unsigned apps as a setting, but there’s nothing to say that they won’t eventually prod users towards shutting it off. For example, some particular functionality may say “Access to iSomething is prohibited due to your security settings. To use iSomething, you must disable unsigned apps in Gatekeeper.”
We know that Apple *wants* total control over the app ecosystem on their devices, as evidenced by the iPhone, iPad and iPod — and their tit-for-tats to fend off casual jailbreakers. So having known that, isn’t it feasible that this new Gatekeeper, while defaulting to a friendly setting today, is just planting the seed for trusted computing tomorrow?