In another sign of the changing culture at Apple, the company is planning to speak at one of the premier information security conferences, Black Hat 2012, for the very first time. Bloomberg reports that Apple’s platform security manager, Dallas DeAtley, is set to address the conference about security technologies within iOS.
This is a big deal for Apple for a few reasons. First, Apple almost never appears at major technology conferences — with the exception of AllThingsD’s annual confab. It doesn’t do MacWorld anymore, and it doesn’t do the Consumer Electronics Show. Second, Apple doesn’t talk much about security. It’s been able to get away with this for years because its Mac market share has been almost too small to attract much of an effort from malicious hackers running scams.
But just like many other things, that has changed as Apple has become the most visible company in the tech industry. In just the past few months Apple had to deal with the “Flashback” virus that infected more than 600,000 Macs. And more recently, and more crucially, a hacker was able to pick apart Apple’s in-app purchase system and he published a method for allowing users to bypass paying for some app content. It took Apple several days to come up with a solution, and even then, the fix is just temporary. Apple stresses the security of the iOS platform as one of its most important features, and it’s also one of the main reasons Apple vets each app that appears on its iOS App Store. But no platform is immune to security threats.
So it’s good that Apple is starting to talk security. Speaking at the conference and beginning to engage with the security community — in public anyway — is yet another sign of glasnost at Apple, which has been opening up just ever so slightly in the past year. Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple has taken steps to embrace the financial community and power players in Washington D.C., and has begun to talk more openly about working conditions at its partners’ plants in China, the environmental impact of its products, and now the security of its most important platform, iOS.
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