The Reason For iOS' Walled-Garden Is Because macOS Malware Level Is ‘Unacceptable’

Craig Federighi
Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering

Apple has long been praised for having developed operating systems that are more secured and polished than others in the competition.

After all, Apple has been developing its own operating systems longer than most, and has a stricter stance than almost everyone else when dealing with what should or shouldn't be on its platforms.

But Apple's Craig Federighi suggested that people are getting it wrong.

During the Apple against Epic Games trial over App Store royalties and Apple's alleged monopoly., Federighi as the Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, suggested that macOS has malware issues that prevented the company to implement the more open distribution model of macOS, and apply that to iOS.

Federighi argued that the malware threat on macOS is the major reasons for Apple’s walled-garden approach to iOS and the security benefits that control brings.

"Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable."
Craig Federighi

Criticizing the security of macOS is obviously uncharacteristic of an Apple executive.

But Federighi suggested that things are more complicated that it might seem.

If ever iOS were to adopt the same approach as macOS, the iPhone’s operating system would also face cyber security threats. Apple does have an App Store reviewing process, but opening things up is like "bringing a plastic butter knife to a gunfight."

The Mac operating system, Federighi said, is less secure than iOS specifically because of its open nature. If users were able to download iPhone and iPad apps outside of Apple's App Store, Federighi said, they'd be open to a variety of security issues that Apple couldn't review before use.

“If you took Mac security techniques and applied them to the iOS ecosystem, with all those devices, all that value, it would get run over to a degree dramatically worse than is already happening on the Mac,” he said.

“For iOS, we aspired to create something far more secure,” added Federighi, detailing the walled-garden approach to iOS. “All indications are that we have succeeded in doing so.”

Federighi even noted that he had experienced this personally, saying that he "had a couple of family members who have gotten some malware on their Macs.”

While Apple may not be capable enough to police everything inside its App Store to thwart all malware and scamware, Apple relies on the iPhones themselves to protect users from those malicious apps. Apple has designed iPhones to have an architecture capable of minimizing the damage malware can do if it does manage to sneak in.

Read: The Reasons Why Apple's IOS Doesn't Need Antivirus Software

"It's an endless game of whack-a-mole," the senior Apple executive said.

This is because for every piece of malware Apple is able to find and stop, more will pop up.

Apple's computers are "like a car," he said, and that means users can take it anywhere they want. From smooth highway roads to off-roads on the country side, or wherever they like to bring the car to. But for better or worse, iPhones and iPads need a different operating system because those devices need to be useable for children and even babies.

This has been the central of Apple's argument to why the company cannot open up its iOS ecosystem to third-party app stores.

Epic Games filed suit against Apple after its 'Fortnite' game was pulled from Apple's App Store.

Apple said that it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement when it implemented a payment system in the game that enabled players to circumvent Apple's App Store. Epic says the App Store is a monopoly, and argues that iPhones and iPads are no different from computers.

In the lawsuit, Epic is attempting to force Apple to open its iOS platform to alternate app stores, and Apple is trying to defend itself by saying that it can't, and won't.

Read: Fortnite Has Been Kicked Out From Apple's App Store And Google Play Store