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Apple exec: malware level on Mac no longer “acceptable”

By Nadeem Sarwar May 20, 2021, 9:24 pm
Craig Federighi

The ongoing Apple vs Epic Games court trial has led to some stunning revelations over the past few days. At the heart of it all is Epic Games trying to force Apple to allow app installation on iPhones from a third-party store, and in the long run, tweaking its in-app payment policy too. The latest round of legal back-and-forth between the two companies brought Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi to the court, and it was quite an eventful affair. The Apple executive seemingly threw macOS under the bus to argue against third-party app installation on iPhones.

Ultimately I think the Mac can be operated safely, says Apple's Craig Federighi

When questioned why software installation from alternative app stores was allowed for Macs but not on iPhones, Federighi countered by claiming that this would weaken the security aspect. He went on to add that allowing third-party software installation has often been exploited and it has resulted in a level of malware in the Mac ecosystem that Apple doesn’t find acceptable.

Federighi went on to mention that even some of his family members have come across malware on their Mac hardware. But he was quick to argue that Mac was still the safer platform to operate, indirectly targeting Windows which has a well-known problem with addressing the rampant malware distribution on the platform.

federighi mac
Federighi during the launch of Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air (Image: Apple)

iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today.

The Apple executive argued that iOS and Mac ecosystem can not be compared in this regard, as iPhones contain a lot more personal and sensitive data that needs to be safeguarded. He added that the iPhone user base is 10x higher compared to what the Mac commands. On the other hand, Epic Games claims that Apple can easily apply the same set of safety and security guidelines for both macOS and iOS, allowing iPhones to download apps from third-party app repositories. Federighi also drew an interesting analogy between Mac and iPhones to explain Apple’s stance (via CNBC):

Doubling down on why iOS needs more security protocols and how the approach has reaped positive results, Federighi noted that Google’s rival platform Android has a malware problem that is 50 times worse than iOS. In case you’re wondering, Android allows app installation from third-party stores and doesn’t limit users to Google Play, even though Google discourages it in the name of security. The Epic Games-Apple trial will next bring CEO Tim Cook to testify, after which the court proceedings will come to an end on Monday.

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View Apple MacBook Air M1 at Amazon

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