Apple have just introduced the Developer ID program to Mac developers as a security measure which will arrive in the newest revision of Mac OS X: Mountain Lion which is set to release this summer. Gatekeeper is a new feature included in the new Mac OS X which will monitor the apps you download from the Mac App Store and other third-parties to make sure they are published by accredited developers.
This is all part of a Developer ID program which assigns a unique developer ID to all accredited Mac App Store and third-party developers that have been officially checked out by Apple as trust-worthy in an attempt to reduce the chance of malware making it onto your Mac.
This is perfect for protecting your Mac from dodgy software which may harm your computer. However, there are some limitations to this program. The most obvious being that as Gatekeeper will arrive activated by default, legitimate developers that have not yet been accredited by Apple’s ID program are going to be shut out of Apple’s walled garden, no matter how genuine the software. What’s more, the extra work required to implement encrypted files containing a digital signature and summary of the contents of the application are only going to create more late nights for hard-working Mac developers.
Thankfully though, Gatekeeper will still remain an option that the user can opt out of at any time through the security panel in the System Preferences. What’s more, if you want a one-time download from an unapproved source, you can control-click and install the app without having to change your settings.
Whilst it is viewed that this may be just a guise to hook people into using the Mac App Store as their main source of online software distribution, it’s sure to have some benefits to end-users in the long-run. It’s the honest developers that are having to jump through more and more hoops to get their software onto the Mac that are going to be more disgruntled by Gatekeeper. But if that’s what it takes to keep my Mac from being infected, maybe it is a small price to pay.