“It’s an endless game of whack-a-mole.” — Apple Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi
From CNET’s “Apple cites ‘significant’ malware on Mac while defending iOS App Store in Fortnite trial” posted Wednesday:
As Apple has notched the most successful sales of Mac computers in history, its head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, says attacks have risen as well. “Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable,” he said Wednesday during testimony defending Apple in a lawsuit with Fortnite maker Epic Games in a California court.
Each week, Apple identifies a couple pieces of malware on its own or with help of third parties, Federighi added, and it uses built-in systems to automatically remove them from customers’ computers. But still, the malware can infect hundreds of thousands of computers before Apple stamps it out. Since last May, Federighi said, there have been 130 types of Mac malware, and one of them alone infected 300,000 systems.
Federighi said he believes Macs are still more secure than PCs, but he made clear that the Mac’s facing a “significantly larger malware problem” than are iPhones, iPads and Apple’s other devices. “It’s an endless game of whack-a-mole.”
Apple’s choice to essentially attack the security of its own software may seem shocking after the company spent years criticizing competing PCs as insecure.
My take: How times have changed. In its 2020 State of Malware Report, Malwarebytes counted 30 million pieces of dangerous Mac adware compared with 24 million on Windows. As many have noted, the joke at the heart of the classic Mac vs. PC viruses ad no longer applies. Cue the video:
Federighi’s confession, of course, has a strategic purpose. In the context of the Epic trial, it’s to underscore the need to maintain tight control over the App Store. As a friend of the blog put it:
“It’s a dangerous world out there, you need a trusted gatekeeper…”
But I can’t help noticing that it’s only when Apple needs to contrast the new with the old that its executive’s are willing to talk about the old’s shortcomings.