Unacceptable Levels of Mac Malware According to Apple Executive
In the case against Apple initiated by Epic games regarding the recent removal of the highly-popular Fortnite game (developed by Epic Games), Apple defends its decision by arguing that the increasing number of iOS malware threats necessitates the implementation of strict restrictions regarding what apps get allowed into the iOS App Store.
According to Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, the constantly growing number of malware threats that Apple faces is unacceptable, and it requires that strict measures are taken in order to help prevent successful malware attacks on Apple devices.
The case proceedings began at the start of the current month and are being held in the United States District Court, Northern District of California.
For years, Apple has been regarded as a more security-oriented company when compared to its main rival – Microsoft. Apple products have always had significantly stronger protection against hacker attacks and this has been one of their major selling points.
However, in recent years, the status quo has begun to change as malware threats that successfully attack Apple operating systems (iOS and macOS) have started to become more and more common. Currently, though Apple products are still generally seen as safer than their Microsoft and Android counterparts, it is no longer a rarity for an iPhone or a Mac to get infiltrated by a rogue app such as a browser hijacker or even by a malicious malware threat such as a Trojan Horse.
Apple Under Attack
One thing that seems to have encouraged hackers to put more effort into developing malware capable of infiltrating Apple products is the rapidly growing iOS user-base. Currently, the number of users who own an iOS device is over one billion – a huge and very tempting target for threat actors to focus on.
Federighi explains that Apple is currently under attack and, for that reason, there can be no compromise with security which is what leads to the strict and restrictive policy that the company has regarding the apps it allows to be distributed through its official App Stores. Federighi further adds that another thing that makes iOS devices a major target for hackers is the availability of cameras, microphones, location data, and other tech that is standard equipment for all iPads and iPhones. Should an attacker gain unauthorized access to this equipment, the potential harm that could be caused is significant, especially if a large number of devices get compromised.
Although Apple is constantly trying to patch out newly-found weaknesses in its systems as quickly as possible, the cybercriminals are relentless and are always looking for the next vulnerability that they could exploit in iOS or macOS systems.
One example of recent hacker activity that caused the release of a number of security patches from Apple is the entire last month. During it, Apple was forced to release four emergency patches in order to secure a number of recently discovered flaws in the WebKit browser engine. A bit earlier, Apple also had to patch out a zero-day bug that affected macOS and could allow hackers to totally circumvent the main security features of the system. This macOS vuln was even reported to have been exploited in the wild for several months by a version of a well-known Apple malware threat – the adware dropper known as Shlayer.
There is no denying that the current year has been a tough one for Apple security teams and software developers considering the constant appearance of new exploitable weaknesses. 2020 was also not an easy one for Apple security – a number of iOS zero-day flaws had to be patched out with emergency security patches released out of schedule. Some of those flaws have even apparently been getting exploited for years before Apple discovered them.
The Ongoing Case Between Epic and Apple
All of the aforementioned complications seem to currently be used as the main argument that Apple makes in Epic Games’ suit against it. According to Apple.
Epic’s argument is that the removal of Fortnite from the iOS App Store violates California’s antitrust laws. A similar suit from Epic was brought against Google due to Fortnite’s removal from the Google Play Store due to bypassing the 30% developer fee requirement (which is also the reason for Fortnite’s removal from the iOS App Store).
Apple’s main defense in the case is based around the violation of the developer agreement and the guidelines of the App Store. Apparently, Epic Games breached the App Store fee policy by introducing an option that allows users to directly pay to Epic for the game rather than getting it from the iOS App Store, thus bypassing the obligatory App Store fee.
It is now to be decided by the court if Epic Games’ claims are justified or whether Apple is in its right to remove Fortnite from its application store due to the violation of its fee policy.
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