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How to safely use non-app store software ?

741 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 12, 2012 8:49 AM by Chris CA RSS
KeanuReeves Level 3 Level 3 (535 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jun 27, 2012 7:02 PM

Hi,

 

Currently all my software is from the app store.

I need to download some other software made by some small companies or individuals, that is not available on the app store, and is not digitally signed. It is not free (price), and is not open source (so I cannot determine all the things it does).

 

If I install the software in a different user account on my mac, will the software still be able to access files in any of my other user accounts ?

To install the software it asks for the administrator password.

 

The software is widely used within a niche market, and so far no one has reported any complaints. But at the same time it is a niche market, and if there is a practice I can follow to safely use this software and not compromise my mac, then I would like to do that.

 

Thanks.

MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2010), Mac OS X (10.7.4)
  • dsimagry Level 4 Level 4 (1,275 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 27, 2012 7:08 PM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    I install software from many different vendors/developers and download locations (macupdate, cnet, app store, pure-mac, etc.) all the time. Unless that software have been indentiied as being MALWARE, you will probably be fine installing that program/application you want.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)
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    Jun 27, 2012 7:19 PM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    Install it and use it. I only have one piece of software installed from the MAS. All other Apps I have are from other sources. No problems here.

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,110 points)
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    Jun 27, 2012 7:23 PM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    There is no problem installing software that does not happen to be available in the App Store, just as long as you know what it's supposed to do and how to get rid of it should you want to. There is a plethora of niche software that may never be in the App Store.

    … If I install the software in a different user account on my mac, will the software still be able to access files in any of my other user accounts ?

     

    Generally speaking, if you install software that asks for an Administrator name and password, it will be installed in the Applications folder and available to all users.

  • woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,690 points)
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    Jun 28, 2012 3:09 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    If the software is from a reputable vendor, there is generally

    no risk to installing it on your system.  However, there is no

    protection from badly written software, even from the MAS.

    Always seek reviews on any software you plan to install.

  • babowa Level 7 Level 7 (22,100 points)
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    Jun 28, 2012 8:26 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    Unless I were to download from a torrent site, I would trust the company rather than assume that their software contains a virus or malware. AFAIK, you can create a second user account with full admin privileges, but I'd think a much easier solution would be to create a bootable clone of your system on an external drive, install your software and, if there are problems, wipe the disk and clone your system back.

     

    FWIW, I do not do business with MAS (or iTunes for that matter), but I only download from wellknown companies (i.e. Graphic Converter, Belight Software, CarbonCopyCloner, etc). In 20 years or so, I think I've had one app that caused a problem and it was simply not compatible with the OS.

  • Shootist007 Level 6 Level 6 (16,640 points)
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    Jun 28, 2012 11:41 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    I think you are being slightly overly cautious about the software you want to use. If you feel it may steal your personal info then don't use it.

     

    Personally I think you are very paranoid about this.

     

    Exactly what program is this? You have not said.

     

    Do you work for a government and do you have Top Secret info on your computers?

  • babowa Level 7 Level 7 (22,100 points)
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    Jun 29, 2012 8:23 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    Not sure what you mean by "setup software" - it has to be installed. Depending on the software, it either comes with its own installer (just double click that and it'll do it automatically) or, simply drag the icon into your Applications folder and you're done. That is where applications need to be.

     

    If you're afraid that the software may install a keylogger or some other malware, then you are not trusting it. If that's the case, then don't download or install it. Other than that, your personal information is still secure; I really don't quite understand your concerns. I am a fierce privacy advocate and would never trust any of my information to any online server for instance, but I've been downloading from known developers for years without any ill effects.

     

    I would not trust apps from the app store any more than others.

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,110 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 29, 2012 9:17 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    Hi KeanuReeves,

     

    I understand general concerns regarding information theft and malware, but it's puzzling to me (and others, it seems) why you would be so concerned about running this software. It's a fundamental purpose of a computer to do such things, and it wasn't long ago that highly restrictive distribution methods such as the App Store simply didn't exist.

     

    Software written for a narrow market may not have been tested on all the varieties of Macs in the field since its developers may not have the resources to test all of them in all the configurations they may have. This should not dissuade you from running it though.

     

    At least as of right now today, there is nothing to prevent you or anyone else from downloading and installing something called CrashMyMac that is designed to do whatever it wants. In this age word tends to get around pretty quickly about such things though. Unless you have reason to believe the software you are proposing to use is evil, then stop worrying and get on with your life. The Mac is designed to make you productive, so use it.

    I am considering using something like "Little Snitch", but don't know if that will solve my problem:

     

    Little Snitch informs you whenever a program or website is attempting to establish a network connection for the purposes of sending information from your computer to whatever is requesting the information. There are many legitimate reasons for doing this - the iTunes Store relies heavily upon such communication, for example - but there could be nefarious reasons as well. Little Snitch does not discriminate between them, so unless you understand what it does and why, it will just be an annoyance for you.

     

    Besides, Little Snitch could be considered "niche software" in the same category of the programs you want to use.

    MacBooks  iMacs  iPods  AirPorts, Mac OS X (10.7.4),  27 years Apple!
  • babowa Level 7 Level 7 (22,100 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 29, 2012 1:21 PM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    Another thought I forgot to mention this morning:

     

    I have WOT installed (it's a browser extension/add-on/plugin depending on which browser you use) and it flags sites as to their "trustworthyness". If the warning is red or yellow, I have a choice of not going to that site which I normally follow. So, before you download something, google the site and see if there is a warning.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 12, 2012 8:49 AM (in response to KeanuReeves)

    KeanuReeves wrote:

     

    Thanks for your replies. The softwares I intend to use, aren't from a major companies. In fact each of the three softwares have been written by 1 or 2 people.

     

    The software quality is top notch. It "works".

     

    My concern is more over spyware, trojans, or hidden backdoors.

     

    None of the softwares are code-signed, and used by a fairly small community. Hence, I just want to be certain that the software is not spyware.

     

    I am considering using something like "Little Snitch", but don't know if that will solve my problem:

    Little Snitch is the same as the software you want to install. It is written by someone you don't know, written by one or two people, it ios top nothch, it works, it's not open source, etc.

    Code signed software is not part of Lion.

    Why would you even consider using Little Snitch (and use it to help prevent this other software from doing something) but be scared to death to use this other software?

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