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October 13, 2021 by Jesus Vigo

How to test your endpoint security solution’s compatibility with macOS betas

A new macOS version doesn’t just mean new features and fixes to better the user experience. It can sometimes mean incompatibility with apps and services we rely on to get work accomplished. Luckily for users, there are things IT can do to ensure crucial apps, like endpoint security software, keep performing well while continuing to safeguard device, app and user data.

It’s ok, you can admit it. You’re anxiously awaiting Apple’s next operating system aimed at computers, macOS Monterey. Like many Apple users, the desire to upgrade will lead most to install the newest macOS the minute it’s available on the App Store. But - and brace yourself for “the security PSA” - you know better than to casually go ahead and upgrade without knowing which of your apps will continue to work, right?

Of course, you do! We know you do. That’s why Jamf works so closely with Apple to ensure that the Jamf portfolio continues to deliver the polish and performance our customers have come to expect from us. With that said, each organization is different and has different needs for doing business. This includes relying on myriad apps to ensure business continuity, such as critical endpoint security software to monitor devices, provide health insights and prevent malware, including Jamf Protect.

Bearing this in mind as we get closer to the global release of macOS Monterey, we’ve provided this informative blog to help admins and users alike to test for compatibility, and ensure that Jamf Protect is capable of running as needed on their Mac before the time to upgrade is upon us.

“What’s love got to do with it?”

Technically speaking, love alone is not enough of a reason to ensure that apps work as you expect after a new operating system update. Specific, real-world reasons why compatibility is important are:

  • Business continuity: Consider mission-critical apps that perform below organizational needs or stop working altogether. If custom or third-party apps cease functioning, it could have a severe effect on business operations, from a productivity concern to loss of revenue – perhaps worse if in a regulated industry, like healthcare.
  • Unplanned downtime: Downtime happens. When IT anticipates this, the company can make alternate arrangements. But when it’s unplanned, it leads to disruptions in productivity or unavailability of company resources.
  • Maintain user experience: Arguably the lifeblood of many an organization. If their work is affected due to a change in how apps work, this can lead to profound issues across the organization. Not to mention, your users likely won’t appreciate the sudden change very much.
  • Lowered security posture: Your security posture is a measure of how all protections are working together with policies to safeguard your organization against security threats, and its ability to mitigate risk. The stronger the posture, the greater capability to keep devices, users and data safe.
  • Regulatory/Compliance issues: As touched upon above, some industries are regulated, requiring adherence to specific criteria. If these criteria are not met, organizations may be liable for violations, such as loss of life due to healthcare equipment that wasn’t operating as needed after an update. Most countries carry civil and/or criminal penalties for violations.
  • IT support reputation: Even if every other risk is mitigated, often the first proverbial “hit” taken is to the reputation of teams supporting IT and security. While it may not result in a business continuity issue, per se, it could, unfortunately, lead to a lack of faith in these teams by stakeholders.

“Commencing countdown, engines on…”

One of the simplest things admins can do to determine compatibility status prior to the release of a new macOS version is to look at the vendor documentation provided by both Apple and the third-party developer. Many times, a simple search through their respective websites yields a plethora of information stating which apps are supported and to what degree, as well as any features that will be introduced or deprecated.

If you prefer a more hands-on method of testing existing apps within the new platform, testing directly within the new version of macOS provides extensive data on how apps will behave. I know this may sound counter-intuitive since macOS Monterey isn’t out yet publicly but hear me out. Apple makes its Apple Beta Software Program a specialized portal organizations can register for free to become a member of, that provides access to the latest versions of beta software for its entire lineup of products.

As a member, you can “test-drive pre-release versions” of Apple software and take part in shaping it, according to the website. There are two sides to this coin:

  1. Access to the latest beta software to install on non-production devices to test the compatibility of settings, configurations, features and of course, applications.
  2. All testers are auto enrolled in the process of reporting bugs, inconsistencies, etc. directly through the Feedback Assistant app. This helps Apple to track issues affecting compatibility to work on fixing it in a future update.

It’s worth noting that this is the preferred method of testing for many IT admins since it provides the greatest amount of information. Plus, it most closely emulates the final macOS environment that users will be working from. If issues are encountered, bug reports may be filled with both Apple and separately with the developer in advance of the release to hopefully see the concerns resolved before final release. Lastly, access to the beta allows IT to also test deployment strategies, by importing the included certificate file into Jamf Pro to have a solution ready from deployment to ongoing maintenance.

“Yes, you look wonderful tonight”

In addition to the above-stated guidance, Jamf Protect users can verify compatibility with macOS Monterey for themselves by visiting the Jamf Product Documentation website to obtain all sorts of useful information, such as the Release History, Deployment and Jamf Protect API sections to determine resolved issues, best practices for deploying the agent and any changes made to the API framework that may affect how Jamf Protect works and integrates with other apps.

Another excellent source of information comes by way of the Jamf Nation Community. For those that have not had the opportunity to visit, it’s completely free to join and acts as a resource for users of Apple products and Jamf software to troubleshoot issues, report issues and interact with fellow admins to share information on best practices for managing Apple devices and get assistance with resolving issues that you may have encountered while building relationships that facilitate learning.

The last source available to Jamf customers is no further than an email or phone call away: your customer success team, made up of the account manager, technical support staff and system engineers are always there to aid you in resolving any issue(s) you might encounter that affects the management of your organization’s fleet of Apple mobile devices.

Get started with Jamf.

Photo of Jesus Vigo
Jamf
Jesus is a Copywriter, Security focused on expanding the knowledge base of IT, Security Admins - generally anyone with an interest in securing their Apple devices - with Apple Enterprise Management and the Jamf solutions that will aid them in hardening the devices in the Apple ecosystem.
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