I am becoming increasingly unhappy with Apple. Don’t get me wrong, Mac OS X is still an excellent operating system, and Apple computers are still high quality machines. But with Linux distributions growing ever-more easy to use, and Microsoft coming to its senses with its upcoming Windows 7, and the average computer user becoming more knowledgeable, Apple could very easily lose all of the gains it has made in the last decade if they are not careful.
One way for Apple to lose support among one of its key user groups—nerdy power users like myself—is to drop the ball on major security vulnerabilities. No operating system is completely secure, but it is incumbent upon the creator of an operating system to repair identified security issues in a timely manner.
Last year, Apple was the only major operating system maker that failed to release a patch on a worldwide coordinated ‘patch day’ to resolve a major security hole that affected all platforms. Every major Linux distribution, every current Unix builder, and even Microsoft patched their systems against that DNS bug on the same day. Apple, though made aware of the issue at the same time as everybody else, left their users un-patched for well over a month against one of the most computer serious security issues since the advent of the Internet.
Now, word is coming out that a bug in Java technology that leaves computer users at risk from hackers remains un-patched by Apple in Mac OS X more than nine months after the issue was discovered, and long after the Java systems on every major Unix, Linux, and Windows system have been patched. Not cool.
It is only a matter of time before Apple’s inexplicable negligence with these kinds of security issues results in a major virus making the rounds in the Mac OS X user community, which will slaughter Apple’s reputation for security and stability. I hope the folks in Cupertino are taking note.