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Google's "Santa" Tracks Naughty and Nice Binaries on Mac OS X

By Eduard Kovacs on November 24, 2014


Google's Macintosh Operations Team announced the availability of the source code for "Santa," a tool designed for whitelisting and blacklisting binaries on Apple's Mac OS X operating systems.

Threats designed to target devices running Mac OS X are increasingly common and increasingly successful. A perfect example is the recently-uncovered WireLurker malware which is believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of devices in China.

Santa, named so because it "keeps track of binaries that are naughty and nice," is just one of the many tools and scripts developed by Google's Macintosh Operations Team for managing and tracking a fleet of Mac computers in a corporate environment. The search engine company uses tens of thousands of Macs and managing them is not an easy task.

Santa is not an official Google product and it's not even at version 1.0 due to some issues that still need to be addressed, but the project looks promising. The tool has four main components: a kernel extension for monitoring executions, a userland daemon that makes execution decisions based on the contents of a SQLite database, a graphical user interface (GUI) agent that notifies the user when an execution is blocked, and a command-line utility that's used to manage the system and synchronize the database with a server.

The tool is designed to run in two modes: monitor and lockdown. In the "monitor" mode, all binaries are allowed to run, except for those that are blacklisted. In "lockdown" mode, only whitelisted binaries can be executed.



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Google's elves work on Santa to rein(deer) in grinchware

By Simon Sharwood,


Unofficial app sorts niceware from naughtyware


Google's elves have been busy working on a toy for all the girls and boys who run Mac OS and worry about getting a virus.

“Santa” is billed as “a binary whitelisting/blacklisting system for Mac OS X”, can be found on GitHub and “keeps track of binaries that are naughty and nice.


Nice binaries get to run. Naughty binaries get a sack of coal and a mention on the coal-dark blacklist of code that's not allowed to run on a Mac.


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