Based on Apple’s software program chief, the present state of Mac malware is unacceptable
Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President Software Engineering, speaks during Apple’s Annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 5, 2017 in San Jose, California, United States.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said in court on Wednesday that Apple was not happy with the amount of malicious software or malware on its operating system for Mac computers, MacOS.
Federighi said that the ability Apple offers users to install software from the Internet onto Mac computers is “routinely exploited” and that the iPhone’s operating system, iOS, has “dramatically raised the bar” for customer protection.
“Today we have a malware level on the Mac that we do not consider acceptable and that is much worse than on iOS,” Federighi said in the test version of Epic Games against Apple.
The difference between iPhone and Mac security is important in the trial version as Epic Games wants to force Apple to install alternative app stores that are allowed on Mac computers on iPhones.
Epic Games argues that Apple can easily apply installation policies and security mechanisms for Mac software to iPhones, while Apple says the App Store verification process and rules keep users safe.
On Wednesday, Federighi said the Mac user base is about a tenth the iPhone’s user base. Apple said in January that it had 1 billion active iPhone users.
“We wanted to create something far more secure for iOS. All indications are that we have succeeded,” said Federighi. He said Apple found and removed about 130 different types of malware on Macs over the past year that infected hundreds of thousands of user systems, compared to three types of malware that infected iPhones.
“I have a few family members who have malware on the Mac, but ultimately I think the Mac is safe to use,” Federighi said.
Federighi’s inclusion was prompted by a question from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers who will determine what action to take in the coming weeks or months. The trial is expected to end on Monday after three weeks.
Apple customers have long wondered if the company is considering merging its Mac desktops and iPad tablets that are running a version of iOS. Apple’s newest Mac computer uses the same processor as its high-end iPads.
Federighi subsequently provided a metaphor suggesting that Apple is still viewing them as separate products. For example, software developers still use Macs because they can install development tools like Xcode and access the bowels of the computer – including installing unauthorized software.
“I think the Mac is the car, you can take it off the road if you want, you can drive wherever you want. As a driver, you have to be trained, there is a level of responsibility. But that’s what you wanted to buy “You wanted to buy a car,” said Federighi. “With iOS, you can create something that kids, even toddlers, can use an iOS device and be safe with. Really different products.”
A recent Nokia report cited by Federighi said that iOS devices account for 1.72% of mobile malware infections, compared with 26.64% for Android and 38.92% for Windows.
“Android still has a significant malware problem,” said Federighi. “About 50 times the malware of iOS.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook is due to testify in the court hearing on Friday.