Apple software chief admits there’s too much Mac malware


Craig Federighi says iPhone does a better job of protecting customers than macOS.
Photo: Apple

Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering, told a court on Wednesday that there’s more Mac malware available than Apple’s executive team is comfortable with. And he says iPhones do a much better job of protecting users.

Federighi was testifying at the Epic Games v. Apple trial explaining why he thinks the iPhone-maker’s tight control of the iOS App Store is necessary.

Epic Games is trying to get a federal judge to rule that Apple’s restrictions on the App Store are anticompetitive and order significant changes to it.

Adi Robertson from The Verge tweeted Wednesday during the trial, giving frequent updates on the proceedings.

Federighi: iOS is safer than macOS

During the Apple executive’s testimony, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers pointed out that there are multiple software stores for the Mac. Then she asked why the iPhone shouldn’t be equally open.

Federighi said those alternate macOS software stores are a source of malware. “It is regularly exploited on the Mac. iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today,” Federighi told her, according to The Verge. “Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable,” said Federighi.

The Apple executive starkly contrasted the security differences between iOS and macOS. “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,” he said. But Mac users have to be “very cautious.” And he admitted some of his own family have been hit with malware.

Federighi says no to sideloading

Naturally, Federighi agrees with Apple’s opposition to sideloading iOS apps — installing them directly from another computer, not the App Store. He says it would lead to unsafe software going onto people‘s iPhones.

And he argues against Epic Games’ proposal that Apple digitally sign safe iPhone applications then leave it up to developers how they are distributed, even if that’s outside the App Store. “The code signature is a deterrent, but the signing certificates themselves can be stolen,” Federighi told the judge.

Stay tuned…

The Epic Games v. Apple trial has been going on for weeks, but this week should provide some of the most interesting testimony because several Apple executives are taking the stand. Apple fellow Phil Schiller spoke Monday and Tuesday, and now it’s Craig Federighi’s turn. Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to take the stand on Friday.

The trial will to wrap up shortly after that. Then it will be up to Judge Rogers to device if the App Store is anticompetitive, as there’s no jury in this lawsuit.


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