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Apple Changes Its OS X Security Tune

Apple Changes Its OS X Security Tune

Apple has made a small change to its website regarding the verbiage used to describe OS X's security. Instead of claiming immunity, the site simply asserts that Macs are "built to be safe." The subtle wording alteration may reflect a changing philosophy on security, especially in light of highly publicized malware attacks from a few months ago.

By Rachelle Dragani MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
06/27/12 5:00 AM PT

Apple has changed the wording on its website regarding the security of its OS X operating system.

The company used to boast that OS X didn't get the "thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers." Recently, however, that was changed to read "It's built to be safe." The site then outlines some of the ways in which its newest version of the operating system is designed to combat attacks. It also offers advice to users, reminding them that safety is a primary concern. The tips include telling users to turn on the firewall and to set up secure file-sharing.

The company's recent focus on security comes months after hundreds of thousands of Mac users were tricked into installing malware.

Apple has made significant strides in correcting some of its vulnerabilities, said Michael Sutton, vice president of security research for Zscaler ThreatLabZ.

"OS X Mountain Lion, the soon-to-be released upgrade to OS X, implements some important security measures," he told MacNewsWorld. "Those include daily checks for security updates and the automatic installation of security patches."

First Step: Admitting the Problem

Acknowledging security concerns is the first step in correcting some of those threats, said Sutton.

"Apple has learned the same lesson that vendors such as Oracle also learned the hard way -- not to make exaggerated claims about being immune to security threats," he said. "Their altered statements on security are a reflection of reality as opposed to a change in philosophy."

The company has also begun to realize that its relatively low security breach rate was due more to the fact that it was obscure to hackers, he said, and it's learning to keep up with security improvements as the system continues to gain more users.

"Apple is also learning that a degree of their immunity was driven by the overwhelming popularity of the Windows operating system," said Sutton. "As OS X grows in popularity, it too is becoming an increasingly attractive target for attackers."

How's the Pay?

Employees at Apple's retail stores might not be getting the pay they deserve, according to a New York Times report published last weekend. The company is a tech industry leader in terms of profitability, but Apple employees receive relatively standard hourly wages. Unlike employees at some of the wireless providers that carry iPhones, Apple employees aren't paid commissions.

Still, the company does offer a fair hourly wage and possible additional benefits in exchange for being an Apple store worker, which is about all a retail worker can request, Stephanie Luce, associate professor of labor studies at The Murphy Institute at CUNY, told MacNewsWorld.

"Apple is not unusual in the retail world," she said. "Many large retailers pay low wages, even when they bring in large profit, and even when they can afford to pay their top management very high salaries. I do not think there is any reason to believe that Apple's wages are particularly low in the retail sector."

However, for a company with record profits, especially one that is known for its overall brand and retail experience, it's natural that retail employees might be left wanting more, said Luce. Those employees don't have much bargaining power to negotiate those higher wages, however, especially in the current economic climate, said Luce. In addition, Apple's retail workforce is actually relatively small compared to other major retailers, she said.

Even if Apple were to differentiate itself from the rest of the retail crowd and offer wages that are more in line with its company profits, other retailers probably wouldn't follow suit, said Luce.

"When a small number of retailers control so much of the labor market, and when unemployment and underemployment are so high, workers have little to no bargaining power," she said. "I am not sure what extent Apple could influence wage levels by raising wages on their own, because while they are a large company, their total employment is still fairly small relative to other retailers."

Apple didn't respond to our request for comment.


Rachelle Dragani is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn, NY. She enjoys staying on top of e-commerce deals, reporting on what new gadget is coming your way, and keeping tabs on anyone trying to hack into your info. Feel free to e-mail her at rachelle.dragani@newsroom.ectnews.com.


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