How Apple is Notarizing Mac Apps from Developers Outside Own App Ecosystem

One of the world’s most valuable companies, Apple Inc. has recently made an announcement concerning the Notarization process for Mac apps. The developers who create Mac apps outside the Mac App Store must go through the process of submitting the app for the Notarization process effective from February 3rd, 2020.

This step has been taken to reduce the frequency of malicious components in apps on the Mac App Store.

Mac App Store Notarisation
Image source: Indulge Express

Apple is suggesting that once developers upload their software, they will be reviewing the developer log for warnings. Since the Notarization process is taking place starting on February 3, 2020, these warnings will become errors. So Apple says that all errors should be fixed by that date for software to be notarized.

“In June, we announced that all Mac software distributed outside the Mac App Store must be notarized by Apple in order to run by default on macOS Catalina. In September, we temporarily adjusted the notarization prerequisites to make this transition easier and to protect users on macOS Catalina who continues to use older versions of the software. Starting February 3, 2020, all submitted software must meet the original notarization prerequisites.

If you haven’t yet done so, upload your software to the notary service and review the developer log for warnings. These warnings will become errors starting February 3 and must be fixed in order to have your software notarized. Software notarized before February 3 will continue to run by default on macOS Catalina.

As a reminder, all installer packages must be signed since they may contain executable code. Disk images do not need to be signed, although signing them can help your users verify their contents.”

What is Notarizing Software?

The notarization process gives users even more confidence in the software by submitting it to Apple. The service automatically scans your Developer ID-signed software and performs security checks. When it’s ready to export for distribution, a ticket is attached to your software to let Gatekeeper know it’s been notarized.

For step-by-step details on uploading your Mac software to be notarized, read Notarizing Your App Before Distribution and the Xcode Help Guide.

In simpler words, submitting an app to Apple for Notarization is like signing your Apps for Gatekeeper so that macOS can help protect users from downloading and installing malicious software.

Apple’s Planning With Notarization Process

To successfully run and execute macOS Mojave 10.14.5, Apple has been planning to require Developer ID for any new software designed outside of the Mac App Store. Whichever app will be designed outside the Mac App Store, that will need to go through the notarization process so that it can serve its core purpose that is to protect Mac users from malicious and harmful apps.

For the notarization process, Apple provides a trusted non-Mac App Store developers with Developer IDs that are required to allow the Gatekeeper function on macOS to install the non-Mac App Store apps.

Now since the notarization process has been applied only on developers who are designing apps outside of Apple’s app ecosystem, the internal ones aren’t required to go through the same phase. If you want to have more information on notarization, you can found them on Apple’s developer site.

I consider this as a great initiative from Apple Inc. as there are many incidents happening where users are getting affected no matter how the breach takes place. This way the company is trying to think from the user’s perspective and that is a good start.

What Do You Think

Do you think this initiative can prevent users from getting affected by malicious and harmful apps? Share your opinions in the below comments and let us know your thoughts on the same.

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