For years Apple spun a myth that its machines were immune to the viruses that plagued PCs and touted that it was because of superior operating system design.
While only Apple fanboys seriously believed it, the claim was made by Apple’s marketing, even after iOS was regularly turned over at hacking events.
Apple was able to get away with it because its operating system was such a small player that virus writers could not be bothered writing code to take it down. That was before the iPhone and the iPad became more widespread and iOS became a viable target.
Security company Sophos noticed a change in Apple’s marketing this week. On Apple’s website a statement that its Mac computers were “completely immune to viruses” has been replaced with: “It’s built to be safe”.
This is a bit like changing the bible to say that the world was created by a big bang and humanity evolved from a single simple cell organism. It might be completely true, but will still cause ructions among the faithful.
He said that Jobs’ reality distortion field was “a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand”.
Hertzfeld added that spin played a big role in Apple’s marketing strategy, but Apple has little to stand on by calling its Macs completely watertight when they were not.
The Flashback trojan killed off all illusions that the Macs were secure and could even create a false Apple-signed Java certificate, which tricked users into clicking the “Continue” button to let the trojan infect the host further.
Most of the problems were caused by Apple’s arrogance. The company could not be bothered updating its Java security patches. It probably believed its own spin, which is completely fatal, but will probably not happen again. Microsoft learned the hard way that security is not something you can be light about, or a subject for faith.