Apple has removed a controversial feature from its macOS operating system that allowed the company’s own first-party apps to bypass content filters, VPNs, and third-party firewalls.
Called “ContentFilterExclusionList,” it included a list of as many as 50 Apple apps like iCloud, Maps, Music, FaceTime, HomeKit, the App Store, and its software update service that were routed through Network Extension Framework, effectively circumventing firewall protections.
This exclusion list has been scrubbed now from macOS 11.2 beta 2.
The issue first came to light last October following the release of macOS Big Sur, prompting concerns from security researchers who said the feature was ripe for abuse, adding it could be leveraged by an attacker to exfiltrate sensitive data by piggybacking it on to legitimate Apple apps included on the list and then bypass firewalls and security software.
“After lots of bad press and lots of feedback/bug reports to Apple from developers such as myself, it seems wiser (more security conscious) minds at Cupertino prevailed,” said Patrick Wardle, a principal security researcher with Jamf, last week.
Researchers, including Wardle, found last year that Apple’s…