Has Apple had a good year?

Anthony Caruana
11 December, 2017
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When Tim Cook looks back and reflects on what 2017 meant to Apple, he will have mixed feelings. On one hand, there was the iMac Pro. On the other was the admission that the company got it very wrong with their design and strategy for the beautiful but hard-to-update Mac Pro. They managed to arrest the decline in iPad sales and released the evolutionary iPhone 8 and slightly-revolutionary iPhone X.

But the last few weeks, in particular, have not been good.

Apple, logo, macworld australiaWhen the KRACK vulnerability was made public, the security researcher who discovered it had already notified the largest tech companies in the world so they could protect users from the potential effects of a Wi-Fi bug that rendered useless the WPA security protocol the majority of us depend on to secure our wireless communications.

Apple took a couple of weeks after the flaw was made public to release a fix. In contrast, Microsoft had issued a fix almost a month before the vulnerability was made public. That will have given the long-time Mac users who have pointed to the Mac as being the safer platform some pause I think.

Then, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a major vulnerability affect Macs where anyone could log into your computer user the ‘root’ user account that has even more access to your system than an administrative account. That fault was hastily patched by Apple once it was made public with further patches issued over the last couple of days.

I expect that many of the Mac users that are reading this today use their Macs at home or in small businesses and don’t see themselves as major targets of hackers and other miscreants. But that’s simply not the case. The bad guys today don’t use viruses to simply disrupt your day. They are looking for ways to extort money from you somehow, either through the theft of credentials, ransomware or some other method. And these new ways of trying to ‘monetise’ (I really don’t like the way this word has been created and passed into common parlance) crime can affect everyone.

Although Apple’s hardware and software has its own particular style and way of doing things, those systems are, from a functional point of view, not all that different to those coming from any other computer, tablet or smartphone maker today. That means all those companies are looking for ways to differentiate themselves in ways that are really meaningful to us – their customers. Protecting our security and privacy is one of the key ways hardware and software makers are differentiating themselves from each other.

Apple has done themselves some serious damage over the last few weeks. An old boss of mine once reminded me that it only takes one “Uh oh” moment (he may have used much stronger language than that but you get the gist) to cancel out a thousand “Yippees”. Apple has withdrawn significantly from its ‘trust account’ recently.

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