Apple’s Mac security warning shows that closed beats open

Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi recently told us that Macs aren’t yet as secure as iOS devices, but does this mean Mac users need to worry?

What Federighi said

Apple’s software lead was appearing as part of the interminable Epic v Apple trial (which today involves Apple CEO Tim Cook taking the stand). Federighi was arguing that by maintaining a highly controlled third-party app environment on iOS, Apple has been able to build an extremely secure platform.

But it’s what he had to say concerning Mac security that generated consternation. “iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection,” he said. “The Mac is not meeting that bar today.”

Federighi observed that the level of malware on the Mac is something the company sees as “unacceptable,” warning that if iOS worked in a similar way its security would be deeply compromised.

Given that more than 1 billion people use iOS, any kind of decline in security protection would be a pretty bad thing, particularly for government, enterprise, and healthcare providers — many of whom have coalesced around iPhones, iPads and Macs.

What Federighi means

The comments generated a raft of headlines suggesting Apple doesn’t really think its Macs are secure, which isn’t what Federighi was saying at all. The scale of the Mac malware challenge is growing fast; Federighi told the court that 130 different items of Mac malware have affected more than 300,000 systems.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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