Apple is facing the heat for a new feature in macOS Big Sur that allows many of its own apps to bypass firewalls and VPNs, thereby potentially allowing malware to exploit the same shortcoming to access sensitive data stored on users’ systems and transmit them to remote servers.
The issue was first spotted last month by a Twitter user named Maxwell in a beta version of the operating system.
“Some Apple apps bypass some network extensions and VPN Apps,” Maxwell tweeted. “Maps for example can directly access the internet bypassing any NEFilterDataProvider or NEAppProxyProviders you have running.”
But now that the iPhone maker has released the latest version of macOS to the public on November 12, the behavior has been left unchanged, prompting concerns from security researchers, who say the change is ripe for abuse.
Of particular note is the possibility that the bypass can leave macOS systems open to attack, not to mention the inability to limit or block network traffic at users’ discretion.
According to Jamf security researcher Patrick Wardle, the company’s 50 Apple-specific apps and processes have been exempted from firewalls like Little Snitch and Lulu.
The change in behavior…