Apple vs Epic Games: Did Apple just admit to its ‘secure’ Mac having malware issues to protect the iPhone?

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Updated: May 21, 2021 12:38 PM

Epic Games has dragged Apple to court after the latter took down its game Fortnite from the App Store for flouting Cupertino’s rule that any in-app purchase for digital items on iPhones must be carried out via Apple’s payment gateway.

Federighi said that the level of malware on Mac is not acceptable to the company.

Apple macOS: Apple is currently locked in a legal battle with Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, over its decision to remove Fortnite due to an App Store policy that has been contended by the developer. The battle could decide the future of how Cupertino conducts its business, and now in a testimony in court during the antitrust case, Apple has probably thrown the Mac under the bus to protect the iPhone. Even as Apple continuously takes digs at Windows for the malware issues it faces, the company’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi has admitted that macOS faces its own malware issues.

Federighi said that the level of malware on Mac is not acceptable to the company, admitting that its macOS, which is touted by Cupertino for its security, is not as secure as it would like it to be. This was in response to the judge asking him why Apple could not apply the macOS model of allowing third-party apps to be downloaded to iPhone as well. Thus, in order to ensure that the issue of safety of iPhone remains paramount during this legal battle as well, Federighi threw macOS under the bus saying that if Mac’s security techniques were to be applied to the iOS ecosystem, then considering all the devices in use, the issue would be at a much higher level than it is on Mac. He added that it would lead to a very bad situation for the iOS users.

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Essentially, what Apple is banking upon is the likeliness of security of the iPhone being paramount in any decision that is taken during the case, because the issue of user safety is uncompromisable. The macOS is the only Apple system that allows for third-party app downloads, and by showing that it poses risks even in its secure Mac, Cupertino is trying to tip the scales in its favour.

Basically, Epic Games has dragged Apple to court after the latter took down its game Fortnite from the App Store for flouting Cupertino’s rule that any in-app purchase for digital items on iPhones must be carried out via Apple’s payment gateway and not through its own payment process. However, in such a purchase, Apple deducts a 30% commission from the developer, and Epic Games knowingly flouted this rule thinking it to be an unfair one. Soon after the game was taken down, the app developer filed an antitrust suit against the iPhone maker, and now, the future of how Apple functions depends on the outcome of this case.

Showing that third-party downloads can possibly compromise the safety of the iPhone is a strong card that Apple is playing.

However, this admission could lead to outrage among its Mac users, and therefore, to pacify them, Federighi also said that Mac is still safe if it is “operated correctly”, adding that it came with “a certain level of responsibility” among the users. He also asserted that it was still safer than Windows PCs, continuing to place its Mac as the most secure option available among the segment. Cupertino also tried to highlight the safety standards that are seemingly acceptable to it when Federighi stated that its iOS provides a safety level that children or even infants could use and its safety would not be harmed. By highlighting the standard of safety it tries to offer on iOS, it might also be trying to downplay the seriousness of the malware by showing that the high standards it holds means that even a little deviation would be unacceptable to Apple.

The lawsuit has the potential to pull out many skeletons from Apple’s closet and clearly, the company is trying to keep its bases covered and tread lightly while defending its stance, which according to Epic Games exploits its dominant position. On Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely to testify in the case and therefore, it is still to be seen what more information about the tech giant could be divulged in the case before both the parties present their closing arguments next week.

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