After all, who installs third party apps on your Mac? You do, right? Who deletes apps on their Macs? Mac users, right? Maybe so, maybe not. Recently, the tech community found out that Zoom installed a web server on the Mac.
If you want a web server to run on your Mac, that’s OK and there are plenty of options to do just that. In this case Zoom did so without letting users know.
Apple killed it.
Apple often pushes silent signature updates to Macs to thwart known malware — similar to an anti-malware service — but it’s rare for Apple to take action publicly against a known or popular app. The company said it pushed the update to protect users from the risks posed by the exposed web server.
This was not the first time and likely will not be the last time that Apple pushes an update that controls your Mac without telling you what is going on. Apple has done this before and does so a number of different ways.
Yes, there are the standard security updates, but those differ because Mac users can choose to not install them; they are not necessarily automatic, even if they are needed. Think of that as the option to pull an update from Apple. It is the most common method to get an update.
Then there are updates which are pushed to Mac users and these happen in the background without user intervention. All that is required is for your Mac to be connected to the internet. Apple often uses this method to push updates that can prevent malware.
Finally, there is another option Apple uses to change the apps that run on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and now Watch.
Remember FaceTime-gate? Or, rather, Group FaceTime-gate? A bug in Group FaceTime could allow users to view what your device’s camera views without you knowing it. Apple closed down Group FaceTime until it found a fix and then upgraded devices accordingly.
What all this means is that Apple controls your Mac– and the apps that run on it, including those you installed, malware, and Apple’s own apps– to a degree we may not have considered in the past.
So far, that control appears to be exercised with judicious caution, but it should tell us that another Big Brother is watching over our shoulders.