Is Apple's corporate culture a security risk?

Apple’s corporate culture has lead to high levels of secrecy, but will this work with security – especially as it grows its market share?

For example, pirated copies of Apple iWork 09 were distributed through BitTorrent sites that contained trojans. Symantec later revealed this was the first botnet ever seen on the Mac platform.

Throughout the entire incident, Apple would not comment to IT PRO about the security issue, not even once Symantec had revealed that the threat did turn into a botnet. And that seems to be general Apple policy for security issues, unless it is advertising security for a product.

When patches and new software releases come out, Apple does have detailed information on what the problems are, similar to the advisories that Microsoft release when it releases patches.

But apart from that, there's virtually no information from the Apple security team, which it says is for the "protection of its customers". This is the opposite to Microsoft and other companies, which have "full disclosure" policies.

What the experts say

Graham Cluley, security researcher at Sophos, said: "Microsoft had a fairly bad reputation until recently for not being open about vulnerabilities and not sharing a lot of advice and guidance."

"Although it suffers some vulnerabilities and some people are quite anti-Microsoft, I think they've gained an awful lot of kudos over the last few years by being open."

With the Mac OS X platform increasing market share and the iPhone becoming one of the main smartphones of choice, is secrecy over security something that Apple can continue with?

Cluley marked one of the differences with Microsoft security blogs, which Apple didn't have. He said that Apple hadn't yet realised that being closer to its users could make them appear more human and less closed off.

Time for a change?

He said: "I would certainly welcome it being more open about problems and give more information regarding security vulnerabilities, because I think it would help encourage people to patch their systems and that Apple was taking security seriously."

"I do believe Apple are taking security seriously I just think its communication regarding it is perhaps a little bit paranoid that they might be perceived to have insecure software," he noted.

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