Security's Everyman

Security's Everyman

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Bad Apple

I've been thinking of buying a MacBook Pro for a while now. It's not something that I need I just want one. Just when I think that I am ready to bite the bullet Apple does something that kind of irritates me and makes me step back and take a second look.

A couple of years ago David Maynor and Johnny Cache were smeared by Apple for doing research and that left a bad taste in my mouth. Then I listened to an interview on Pauldotcom Security Weekly with Roamer where he details his experiences with Apple. This did nothing to endear Apple to me. Well, as time heals all wounds I've been thinking again that I may bite the bullet and buy a MBP and once again Apple has done something that just gets my goat.

Yesterday I noticed that my Apple Updater software was prompting me to install something. I looked at it and noticed that it wanted to install Safari. I don't want Safari and as far as I knew I didn't have it. So I said no and quickly checked my system to see if somehow Safari had been installed without my knowledge. I hadn't. So I mentioned it to some friends in a chat room and then forgot about it.

This morning I received a link for my friend Martin McKeay to a story that explains what happened. It seems that Apple decided to push out the Safari install to everyone who runs Apple Updater. Martin wrote about this here and you should read his take on it. I tend to agree with Martin that there is nothing really wrong with this but it is underhanded and it irritates me. It would bother me just a little if this was the first thing that Apple has done that I didn't like but it isn't. What I like even less is that they do these things and think that it's no big deal. Why shouldn't they be able to smear peoples names and reputations or give bad service or sneak their software onto possibly millions of computers. Their Apple!

I don't like this because it's semi-dishonest and it takes advantage of peoples inherent acceptance Apples goodwill. They assume that because it is being delivered by Apple via an update mechanism that it is an update. A install of software not currently on the system is not an update and it's wrong to make people think it is. People assume that if a reputable company is sending them something via an updater then it is an update and needs to be installed. We in the security community have been preaching to our friends and family to keep their software updated and along comes Apple with what could be called predatory practices. That is just plain wrong.

This won't make me not buy a MBP one day but it will cause me to really consider whether or not I want to spend my money with a company who doesn't seem to care about how they do things. I know that I lots of companies that I do business with do things that I don't like or agree with and there have been lots of companies that I've stopped doing business with (at least knowingly). For now Apple has lost my business again and only time will tell whether or not they earn it back.

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