Apple Epic Trial

Apple's Craig Federighi throws Mac security under the bus

He admitted that macOS has a malware problem.

Apple's Craig Federighi throws Mac security under the bus

Apple's Craig Federighi said the level of malware on macOS was "not acceptable."

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple pursued a bold, rather unexpected strategy in court on Wednesday in its antitrust fight with Epic Games: It had Craig Federighi criticize the level of security on the Mac.


On the stand was Apple's Craig Federighi, the company's senior vice president of software engineering in charge of both iOS and macOS, and his testimony thus far has largely centered on security and privacy and the lengths Apple goes to protect iPhone users.

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 a stunning admission to hear Apple's software chief throw one of its major software products under the bus, but it's a strategic play from Apple and its legal team to draw strong distinctions between the level of security required on desktop computers and smartphones. On the smartphone, Federighi said it's much more important to protect user security and privacy because the devices carry sensitive information, from medical records to banking information, and those devices are carried around and out in the world all day every day.

"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."

Subscribe to Protocol newsletters for the latest news, analysis and research on the people, power and politics of tech.

Workplace

You need a healthy ‘debate culture’

From their first day, employees at Appian are encouraged to disagree with anyone at the company — including the CEO. Here’s how it works.

Appian co-founder and CEO Matt Calkins wants his employees to disagree with him.

Photo: Appian

Matt Calkins often hears that he’s polite, even deferential. But as CEO of Appian, he tells employees to challenge each other — especially their bosses — early and often.

“I love arguments. I love ideas clashing,” Calkins said. “I regard it as a personal compliment when someone respectfully dissents.”

Keep Reading Show less
Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Some of the most astounding tech-enabled advances of the next decade, from cutting-edge medical research to urban traffic control and factory floor optimization, will be enabled by a device often smaller than a thumbnail: the memory chip.

While vast amounts of data are created, stored and processed every moment — by some estimates, 2.5 quintillion bytes daily — the insights in that code are unlocked by the memory chips that hold it and transfer it. “Memory will propel the next 10 years into the most transformative years in human history,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of Micron Technology.

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.

Gopuff says it will make it through the fast-delivery slump

Maria Renz on her new role, the state of fast delivery and Gopuff’s goals for the coming year.

Gopuff has raised $4 billion at a $15 billion valuation.

Photo: Gopuff

The fast-delivery boom sent startups soaring during the pandemic, only for them to come crashing down in recent months. But Maria Renz said Gopuff is prepared to get through the slump.

“Gopuff is really well-positioned to weather through those challenges that we expect in the next year or so,” Renz told Protocol. “We're first party, we control elements of our mix, like price, very directly. And again, we have nine years of experience.”

Keep Reading Show less
Sarah Roach

Sarah (Sarahroach_) writes for Source Code at Protocol. She's a recent graduate of The George Washington University, where she studied journalism and criminal justice. She served for two years as editor-in-chief of GW's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet. Sarah is based in New York, and can be reached at sroach@protocol.com

Enterprise

AT&T CTO: Challenges of the cloud transition are interpersonal

Jeremy Legg sat down with Protocol to discuss the race to 5G, the challenges of the cloud transition and nabbing tech talent.

AT&T CTO Jeremy Legg spoke with Protocol about the company's cloud transition and more.

Photo: AT&T

Jeremy Legg is two months into his role as CTO of AT&T, and he has been tasked with a big mandate: transforming the company into a software-driven business, with 5G and fiber as core growth areas.

This isn’t Legg’s first CTO gig, just his biggest one. He’s an entertainment biz guy who’s now at the center of the much bigger, albeit less glamorous, telecom business. Prior to joining AT&T in 2020, Legg was the CTO of WarnerMedia, where he was the technical architect behind HBO Max.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

Workplace

How Canva uses Canva

Design tips and tricks from the ultimate Canva pros: Canva employees themselves.

Employees use Canva to build the internal weekly “Canvazine,” product vision decks, team swag and more.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Ever wondered how the companies behind your favorite tech use their own products? We’ve told you how Spotify uses Spotify, How Slack uses Slack and how Meta uses its workplace tools. We talked to Canva employees about the creative ways they use the design tool.

The thing about Canva is that it's ridiculously easy to use. Anyone, regardless of skill level, can open up the app and produce a visually appealing presentation, infographic or video. The 10-year-old company has become synonymous with DIY design, serving as the preferred Instagram infographic app for the social justice “girlies.” Still, the app has plenty of overlooked features that Canvanauts (Canva’s word for its employees) use every day.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins