Will Apple’s Attitude Toward Security Change with Jobs’ Resignation?

I’ll admit it: I’m not “mourning” the resignation of Steve Jobs. I respect him as an innovator, but I’ve never been a fan of his otherwise.

As the Twitterverse and other social media outlets ponder the post-Jobs Apple world, I, too, have a question about the future of Apple: Will the company’s attitude on security improve?

Even though some of my staunchest Apple-fan friends continue to argue that Apple products don’t have security problems, a quick Web search, or even a quick search of “Apple security” within the IT Business Edge family shows otherwise. At the recent Black Hat conference, there was a much-blogged-about presentation that exposed security holes in Apple’s Mac OS X. In his InfoWorld article, Roger A. Grimes pointedly discussed Apple’s security problems:

Macs have always been far more vulnerable to hacker assaults than Windows computers, by almost every metric that means anything. Yes, Macs do have far more software vulnerabilities than Windows computers. If you don’t believe me, go to any vulnerability database (I like Secunia’s advisory database) and compare any operating system or application from Apple and Microsoft, head to head, over the same time period during the last five years. Most people are absolutely shocked to see that Microsoft software in general, and Windows in particular, has suffered far fewer vulnerabilities than Apple software and Mac OS X.

Fixing vulnerabilities and security holes takes time and no one is going to be perfect at it, which is why, in the end, it is always up to the end user to be vigilant about keeping their system safe, no matter the platform. But here is the real beef I have about Apple’s security: the secrecy. Windows users know there are holes in the system that they need to watch out for, and Patch Tuesday is pretty well known these days. If Android users aren’t familiar with the security problems, they aren’t reading the news regularly. But Apple’s security issues tend to fly under the radar, and the company isn’t always upfront about the security flaws that are there, even when it fixes them. I remember clearly a story earlier this summer, when OS X Snow Leopard had an upgrade issued. Apple mentioned all kinds of things that were being improved or fixed, but didn’t mention the security fixes. Is keeping information like that a secret fair to Apple users, especially when so many users already ignore the possibility of security problems on the products?

I hope that Steve Jobs wants to take time to enjoy life and that his illness has not reached its end stages. I wish him well. I also hope that his successor will be a lot more open about security in Apple products. Apple fans deserve that much for their loyalty.

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