Craig Federighi defends iPhone security by throwing the Mac under the bus

That's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for 'em.

What you need to know

  • Craig Federighi took the stand in the Epic v. Apple trial today.
  • The executive threw Mac security under the bus to argue why the iPhone was locked down.

Craig Federighi kind of just threw the Mac under the bus.

As reported by Protocol, Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, took the stand today to testify in the Epic v. Apple trial. During his testimony, Federighi argued that the lack of security on the Mac was proof that Apple's locked-down approach to the iPhone and iPad was warranted.

When asked about the difference between iOS and macOS security, Federighi said, "Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don't find acceptable." Federighi went on to say that malware hidden in apps downloaded from the internet is a "regularly exploited" vulnerability on desktop and that "iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection," adding that "the Mac is not meeting that bar today."

It's kind of insane to know that Apple's strategy to protect the App Store on the iPhone requires it to throw the Mac under the bus. Federighi's reasoning is that the iPhone, being that it contains more private information and is carried around with you, requires a higher bar of security.

"The Mac is a very successful product, and I love it very much, but there are well less than a tenth as many Macs out there in active use than iOS devices," Federighi said. He called iOS a "much more attractive market" for malware and other cybersecurity threats. He went on to describe the Mac as similar to an automobile. "The Mac is a car. You can take if off road if you want, and you can drive wherever you want," he said. "There's a certain level of responsibility." But, he added, "that's what you wanted to buy, you wanted a car." The iPhone, by contrast, is a device that even children can and should be able to safely operate, he argued.

Epic and its lawyers have throughout the trial pointed to the freedom consumers have on macOS to download applications outside the Mac App Store and to largely do what they please on the macOS operating system. Epic has held up the openness of the Mac as an example of what the iPhone, as a general computing device in Epic's eyes, should be transitioned into if it were to win its case.

But Federighi on Wednesday argued against this proposition by saying it would destroy the level of security enjoyed by iOS users, in effect tarnishing the Mac in order to save the iPhone. "It would become commonplace for users to be directed to download misrepresented software from untrusted sources where they'd be subject to malware," Federighi argued, referring to the notion of alternative app stores as a "pretty devastating setback for iOS security."

Phil Schiller also recently took the stand and defended the current rules of the App Store which don't allow game streaming services like Microsoft's xCloud.

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