TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Book Review: "OS X Exploits and Defense "

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 09
Column Tag: Book Review

Book Review: "OS X Exploits and Defense "

"Own it...Just Like Windows or Linux!"

by Edward Marczak


"OS X Exploits and Defense" claims that you'll "see real exploitation techniques for both OS X Tiger and Leopard." The eight chapters volley between personal reflections, basic explanations and diving into code. Unfortunately, the 321-page book spends a fair amount of this time on Mac OS 9.

Writing a book is a difficult undertaking. It has also been a particularly difficult time for authors writing books about OS X: to release a book in a reasonable time frame, much needed to written against beta versions of Leopard. Even after Mac OS X v10.5 was officially released, authors would be working with a less-than-complete operating system, and frequent updates would alter the system from beneath you. Collaboration can also be difficult. (For an example of how difficult, see Adam Engst's excellent presentation from Macworld 2008, "Collaborative Editing Tools & Techniques" at http://www.macworldencore.com/online/presentation.asp?id=257&sessionTypeIdVideo=1&trackIdVideo=4&movieVideo=US914.mp4&yearDate=2008). Increasing the number of contributors increases the difficulty of keeping communications open and in sync. This is a possible reason "OS X Exploits and Defense" feels so hodge-podge: having six authors hurts its chances of having a common voice and having a single thread that runs throughout the book. This also leads to a problem when the text refers to "I," as there's no indication as to which author wrote any given part of the material.

Not to say that there is nothing good about this book. There certainly are gems of code, and an explanation of how malware works and can gain access to an OS X system. Strangely, to frame this, a good portion of the book is spent talking about OS 9. I continually made sure I was reading a book that was published in 2008 and claimed to target Leopard.

Chapter 1 is entitled, "Macintosh OS X Boot Process and Forensic Software." The section on the boot process is covered quickly and slightly incorrectly, which is followed by a short overview of the utilities available in the BlackBag Forensic Suite. Then, without much explanation, Carbon Copy Cloner and MacDrive are covered. Chapter 2, "Past and Current Threats" covers current threats if you're running a version of OS X before Leopard.

Chapter 3 covers definitions and history. Here is where we get a lesson in malware and viruses that existed for OS 9. If you remember HyperCard with nostalgia, this chapter is a nice walk down memory lane, but otherwise overkill for the point being made. Chapter 4, "Malware and the Mac" is a good introduction to the current state of affairs with regard to known malware that can potentially affect Mac OS X (Leopard) and what Apple and third parties have done for the operating system to mitigate these problems. Chapter 5 brings us to "Mac OS X for Pen Testers." The bulk of this chapter is a straight list of tools used for security testing with descriptions of each. This is little more than the sectools list (http://sectools.org/) sanitized for Mac OS X compatibility. The remainder of the chapter presents basic material, such as a short introduction to the command shell (along with some information that could lead people to mistakenly erase their hard drive).

Chapter 6 covers wardriving and chapter 8 is a nice summary of encryption technologies available to the user of Mac OS X.

"OS X Exploits and Defense" had one shining chapter for me. In chapter 7, "Security and OS X," there is a good balance between explanation and diving into the deep end. This chapter is probably the most solid reminder that Mac OS X is not problem-free or exempt from malware, security issues or people trying to take advantage of these entry points.

The best I can say is that this book doesn't know who its audience is. If you can keep up with the code samples, you probably don't need instructions on how to compile open source software. If you need help compiling open source software using MacPorts or Fink, there's not enough guidance to keep up with the deeper material. The shame of it is, is that editors should have caught all of these issues with the writing and compilation of the book.

"OS X Exploits and Defense"

Kevin Finisterre

Larry Hernandez

David Harley

Gary Porteous

Johnny Long

Gareth Porteous

Syngress Publishing

ISBN 978-1-59749-254-6

$59.95 US


Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor for MacTech Magazine, and has been lucky enough to have ridden the computing and technology wave from early on. From teletype computing to MVS to Netware to modern OS X, his interest was piqued. He has also been fortunate enough to come into contact with some of the best minds in the business. Ed spends his non-compute time with his wife and two daughters.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.16 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Spotify 1.0.4.90. - Stream music, create...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
djay Pro 1.1 - Transform your Mac into a...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
Vivaldi 1.0.118.19 - Lightweight browser...
Vivaldi browser. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind that users are... Read more
Stacks 2.6.11 - New way to create pages...
Stacks is a new way to create pages in RapidWeaver. It's a plugin designed to combine drag-and-drop simplicity with the power of fluid layout. Features: Fluid Layout: Stacks lets you build pages... Read more
xScope 4.1.3 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.7 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Labels & Addresses 1.7 - Powerful la...
Labels & Addresses is a home and office tool for printing all sorts of labels, envelopes, inventory labels, and price tags. Merge-printing capability makes the program a great tool for holiday... Read more
teleport 1.2.1 - Use one mouse/keyboard...
teleport is a simple utility to let you use one single mouse and keyboard to control several of your Macs. Simply reach the edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your other Mac! The... Read more
Apple iMovie 10.0.8 - Edit personal vide...
With an all-new design, Apple iMovie lets you enjoy your videos like never before. Browse your clips more easily, instantly share your favorite moments, and create beautiful HD movies and Hollywood-... Read more

Use Batting Average and the Apple Watch...
Batting Average, by Pixolini, is designed to help you manage your statistics. Every time you go to bat, you can use your Apple Watch to track  your swings, strikes, and hits. [Read more] | Read more »
Celebrate Studio Pango's 3rd Annive...
It is time to party, Pangoland pals! Studio Pango is celebrating their 3rd birthday and their gift to you is a new update to Pangoland. [Read more] | Read more »
Become the World's Most Important D...
Must Deliver, by cherrypick games, is a top-down endless-runner witha healthy dose of the living dead. [Read more] | Read more »
SoundHound + LiveLyrics is Making its De...
SoundHound Inc. has announced that SoundHound + LiveLyrics, will be one of the first third-party apps to hit the Apple Watch. With  SoundHound you'll be able to tap on your watch and have the app recognize the music you are listening to, then have... | Read more »
Adobe Joins the Apple Watch Lineup With...
A whole tidal wave of apps are headed for the Apple Watch, and Adobe has joined in with 3 new ways to enhance your creativity and collaborate with others. The watch apps pair with iPad/iPhone apps to give you total control over your Adobe projects... | Read more »
Z Steel Soldiers, Sequel to Kavcom'...
Kavcom has released Z Steel Soldiers, which continues the story of the comedic RTS originally created by the Bitmap Brothers. [Read more] | Read more »
Seene Lets You Create 3D Images With You...
Seene, by Obvious Engineering, is a 3D capture app that's meant to allow you to create visually stunning 3D images with a tap of your finger, and then share them as a 3D photo, video or gif. [Read more] | Read more »
Lost Within - Tips, Tricks, and Strategi...
Have you just downloaded Lost Within and are you in need of a guiding hand? While it’s not the toughest of games out there you might still want some helpful tips to get you started. [Read more] | Read more »
Entertain Your Pet With Your Watch With...
The Petcube Camera is a device that lets you use live video to check in on your pet, talk to them, and play with them using a laser pointer - all while you're away. And the Petcube app is coming to the Apple Watch, so you'll be able to hang out with... | Read more »
Now You Can Manage Your Line2 Calls With...
You'll be able to get your Line2 cloud phone service on the Apple Watch very soon. The watch app can send and receive messages using hands-free voice dictation, or by selecting from a list of provided responses. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Compute Stick: A New Mini-Computing For...
The Intel Compute Stick, a new pocket-sized computer based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor running Windows 8.1 with Bing, is available now through Intel Authorized Dealers across much of the... Read more
Heal to Launch First One-Touch House Call Doc...
Santa Monica, California based Heal, a pioneer in on-demand personal health care services — will offer the first one-touch, on-demand house call doctor app for the Apple Watch. Heal’s Watch app,... Read more
Mac Notebooks: Avoiding MagSafe Power Adapter...
Apple Support says proper usage, care, and maintenance of Your Mac notebook’s MagSafe power adapter can substantially increase the the adapter’s service life. Of course, MagSafe itself is an Apple... Read more
12″ Retina MacBook In Shootout With Air And P...
BareFeats’ rob-ART morgan has posted another comparison of the 12″ MacBook with other Mac laptops, noting that the general goodness of all Mac laptops can make which one to purchase a tough decision... Read more
FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone: Over 1.5 Mi...
FileMaker has announced that its FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone app has surpassed 1.5 million downloads from the iTunes App Store. The milestone confirms the continued popularity of the FileMaker... Read more
Sale! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1099 – $200 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price for online orders only, in-... Read more
Minimalist MacBook Confirms Death of Steve Jo...
ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee has posted a eulogy for the “Digital Hub” concept Steve Jobs first proposed back in 2001, declaring the new 12-inch MacBook with its single, over-subscribed USB-C port to be... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $1234 w...
Adorama has the 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro in stock for $1234.99 ($65 off MSRP) including free shipping plus a free LG external DVD/CD optical drive. Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999...
 Adorama has the 13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Support Technician IV - Jack Henry a...
Job Description Jack Henry & Associates is seeking an Apple Support Technician. This position while acting independently, ensures the proper day-to-day control of Read more
*Apple* Client Systems Solution Specialist -...
…drive revenue and profit in assigned sales segment and/or region specific to the Apple brand and product sets. This person will work directly with CDW Account Managers Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Casper (Can work...
…experience . Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior . Mac OSX / Server . Apple Remote Desktop . Process Documentation . Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Xerox Corporation...
…Imaging experience Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior Mac OSX / Server Apple Remote Desktop Process Documentation Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.