Apple's patch process a mess, say researchers

Constant updating shows Mac OS X isn't ready for the enterprise

Apple's patching process proves that the company isn't serious about moving Macs into the enterprise, security researchers said Monday.

One dissenting expert, however, said it was unfair to compare Apple's patching procedures with, say, Microsoft's.

"You have to evaluate the patching performance of the company if you're looking at Macs," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at vendor nCircle Network Security Inc. "And the last two weeks hasn't been a gold star for Apple."

Unlike its operating system rival Microsoft, which schedules security updates for the second Tuesday of each month and typically limits other updates to twice monthly, Apple releases updates, security fixes included, on any day of the month. Apple, for example, has rolled out updates on five of the 10 business days since September 9.

"You get an update from Apple and it's always a surprise," Storms said. "The first thing you do is sit down with your team, look at the update, set priorities and assign resources. And then the next day, another update arrives, and you have to do it all over again.

"If you can't properly plan for this, you're in a constant firefighting mode," Storms continued. "Now it's affecting the management of the IT team."

And that has to spook businesses, whose administrators are used to pinning Microsoft's updates to specific dates on the calendar. "Even if you realize that the Mac may be an effective tool, it's going to have a greater impact on the infrastructure because of the way Apple patches," Storms said. "The question is, can your infrastructure withstand it?"

Charlie Miller, a researcher at Independent Security Evaluators who is well-known for his Mac and iPhone vulnerability work, agreed that Apple's patching process makes it tough on corporate IT staffers. "Administrators rely on knowing what will happen," Miller said. "If they know, they can plan their week around it."

Posting patches without a schedule, Miller said, is an invitation for businesses to simply not patch. "For someone like me, it's no big deal, but for professionals, it's a whole different story," he said. "The last they want is a patch that just shows up. They can't patch without testing. So this is one more reason for them to go, 'I just won't patch.' "

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security patch

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?