Mac malware level unacceptable, says Apple’s Craig Federighi in Epic trial


The competition law between Apple and Epic continued today, bringing Craig Federigh, Apple’s director of software design, to the department. Federigh’s mission was pretty clear from the start: to increase the security benefits of iOS’s walled ecosystems and to warn of the dangers of violating the App Store model.

But in substantiating this argument, Federighi also made surprisingly tedious concessions about the security of MacOS.

“If you took Mac security technologies and used them in the iOS ecosystem, with all these devices, with all these values, it’s run dramatically worse than what’s already happening on a Mac,” Federighi said in his testimony. “And like I say, Macs today have malware that we don’t consider acceptable and that is much worse than iOS.”

Federighi made the argument as part of a broader argument as to why iOS could not use the same software model as macOS, which allows for alternative software sources such as the Epic Games Store. But while doing iOS security, the software manager ended up painting a gloomy picture of security on the desktop platform. The full exchange is presented in the context below:

Judge Rogers: There are several stores on the Mac. So, if that can happen on a Mac, why shouldn’t we allow the same stores to exist on the phone?

Craig Federighi: Yeah, that’s definitely how we’ve done it on a Mac and it’s used regularly on a Mac. iOS has set a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. Mac doesn’t fill this bar today. And despite the fact that Mac users naturally download less software and are less financially motivated attackers. If you take Mac security technologies and use them in the iOS ecosystem, with all these devices, with all these values, it’s going to be dramatically worse than what’s already happening on a Mac. And as I say, Macs today have a level of malware that we don’t find acceptable and that’s much worse than iOS. Put the same situation on iOS and it would be a very bad situation for our customers.

Federighi also brought the difference between the two platforms in unusual terms by describing the desktop platform as something resembling a car. “If it’s used correctly, just like that car, if you know how to use the car and follow the rules of the road and you’re very careful, yes,” he said when asked directly if macOS is safe. “If not, I’ve had a couple of family members who have gotten malware on their Macs.” macOS allows you to download and install software from the web, but Apple advises customers that restricting this feature to the App Store is the “safest setting.”

Instead, Federighi introduced iOS as a child-safe version of the less secure macOS. “With iOS, we were able to create something where kids – hell, even toddlers – can use an iOS device and be safe doing it. It’s a really different product,” Federighi said.

Federigh’s testimony comes in the last days of the trial, and much of the remaining time is spent on testimonials from Apple executives. CEO Tim Cook is expected to take a position on Friday, and resolutions from both sides will be issued on Monday.


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