Apple Releases Largest OS X Security Update Ever


Does this mean the honeymoon is over for Apple's security reputation? Certainly, plenty of folks in the industry are sick of hearing that OS X is more secure than Windows and would love nothing more than to see miscreants treating the operating system like their own personal playground.

Some researchers have even taken matters into their own hands. In 2007, a pair of security researchers launched the Month Of Apple Bugs, a campaign to highlight security flaws in Apple products and chip away at perceptions that Macs are inherently more secure than PCs.

But while Apple's latest security update is of record size, its size shouldn't be interpreted as a sign that OS X is suddenly less secure.

"This means Apple is normal and following in the footsteps of all other software companies and fixing those problems as they are revealed. There is really nothing unique at work here," said Andrew Plato, president at Anitian Enterprise Security, a Beaverton, Ore.-based security solution provider.

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"Actually, this puts OS X into the 'club' as a real OS with real problems and real threats. So much for the 'it just works' stuff," quipped Plato.

Apple's previous largest security update, issued back in March 2008, included fixes for 67 vulnerabilities. But compared to Windows XP Service Pack 2, which fixed over 800 issues when Microsoft released it in 2004, that "seems downright meager," according to Plato.

This is the third security update for Snow Leopard since Apple launched it in August 2009 and brings the OS to version 10.6.3. Included are updates to iTunes and Quicktime, both of which will be loaded on the iPad when it arrives in stores later this week.

Apple's previous Snow Leopard update in November fixed the so-called guest account bug, which caused data in the user's home folder to be permanently erased once a user logged out and then logged back in.

Apple earlier this month added to its security talent ranks by hiring Window Snyder, former chief security officer at Mozilla, as a security and privacy product manager. A Web browser security specialist, Synder also previous worked as a senior security strategist at Microsoft and CTO at Matasano Security.