For years, Apple has consistently knocked Windows for its malware issues, claiming macOS is by far the more secure desktop operating system. However, faced with a legal battle that could decide the future of its business, the company offered a surprising admission: macOS has its own malware problem. The acknowledgement came from Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, who testified on Wednesday in the company’s antitrust case with Epic Games (via Protocol).
"Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don't find acceptable," Federighi told the court in testimony. “If you took Mac security techniques and applied them to the iOS ecosystem, with all those devices, all that value, it would get run over to a degree dramatically worse than is already happening on the Mac.”
This is a bold strategy here from Apple, to essentially throw Mac security under the bus to protect the iPhone.
Federighi says there’s “significantly larger malware problem on the Mac,” calls it unaccpetable. But says it’s safe “if operated correctly,” like a car.
— Nick Statt (@nickstatt) May 19, 2021
Federighi made the claim when the judge presiding over the case asked him why iOS shouldn’t adopt the same app store model as macOS. “Put that same situation in place for iOS and it would be a very bad situation for our customers,” he said.
Federighi walking back his comments on macOS security a bit. Says it’s safer than Windows PCs.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 19, 2021
Federighi went on to illustrate the difference between the two platforms and why Apple prohibits practices like sideloading on iOS by comparing the Mac to a car. "You can take it off road if you want, and you can drive wherever you want," the executive said — former Apple CEO Steve Jobs once employed a similar analogy in a different context. Asked if macOS is safe, he said it is “if operated correctly." "There's a certain level of responsibility." Federighi added. “With iOS, we were able to create something where children — heck, even infants — are able to operate an iOS device and be safe in doing so. It’s really a different product.”
The courtroom battle between Apple and Epic has revealed all sorts of these types of details that companies usually hold close to their chest. We now know, for example, Epic spent $146 million to secure Borderlands 3 as a PC exclusive. With Tim Cook expected to testify on Friday, we could learn more surprising information about the company before Apple and Epic present their closing arguments on Monday.