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Privacy & Security: Apple Myths & Lies

No longer your machine, no longer on your terms.

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'It's here. It happened. Did you notice?' Jeffrey Paul asked in his essay from 12 November. He said he was referring to the dystopia foreseen by Stallman and Doctorow.

'On modern versions of macOS, you simply can't power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored.'

To Apple, that is. And that's a biggie. Something this site has warned about for ten years. Not a nice prospect, to say the least.

But true. Every launch of every program on your Apple mobile, nearly every launch on your Apple computer, is dependent on approval in realtime by Apple. In realtime.

Take this a step further before we go on.

That coupling to Apple HQ in realtime means Apple effectively have a 'kill switch', on you, your software, your computer. Sort of like yesteryear's trojan. They have remote and 99% complete control of you, your computer, wherever you are. They can stop anything they want. And thanks to their changes in their software update routines ten years ago, we know that they now exercise control so they can modify anything they want on your computer without your knowing it.

The only safe way to use an Apple computer is now the same only safe way to use a Windows computer: permanently offline. But even that is more limited with Apple, as you'll see below.

OK. Now we can move on.

And when Apple launched Big Sur, the Intertubes fucked up. People couldn't get their apps to launch. Because Apple's servers need to respond to every 'permission to launch' request from every mobile device and from most computer devices, and they weren't doing that.

Rixstep have long had a way around this, on the computer platform that is, but that's not the point. The point is that millions of other users are not aware that there's a way around and might not even be aware their every mobile move is being monitored.

And so they find themselves SOL.

Who is Jeffrey Paul? The site says he lives in Berlin. You would have guessed this from the domain name. He also lists two projects he's been involved in. And he's penned quite a few articles on the Apple situation. And he tells it like it is.

But let's move forward here. For here's the kicker. This is where the creepiness kicks into overdrive.

On Trusting Macintosh Hardware

That's the writing on the wall. Of course you should read Jeffrey's piece, but let's break it down a bit, if that is possible.

The opening statement is the abstract.

'Apple computers can no longer be fully used and maintained in 100% offline environments, or in ways that will reasonably ensure that the computer is free of state-ordered tampering.'

That's a big one. Your Apple computer is no longer secure. Or private. End of.

'I'm not talking about the main OS for the computer', Jeffrey points out. But Apple computers are now unsuitable for a number of critical applications.

  • Air-gapped systems

  • Systems that must maintain cryptographic integrity

  • Systems that are offline for extended periods of time such as:

    • Remote research stations

    • Ships at sea

    • Outer space

    • Countries that interfere with full Internet access

'Between the wipe and reinstallation step, the machine must connect to Apple to obtain a tiny bit of cryptographic signature data that allows it to be 'activated', enabling the security chip (which mediates all disk i/o) which then permits it to be reinstalled.'

'This means that the machine can potentially be tampered with by Apple (or anyone who can coerce Apple) on a system-by-system basis.'

'Recall also this is the same Apple who, under pressure from the CCP, censored apps used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.'

'Every single mac sold today or recently is running under this system; you cannot put them into a locally known/verified state, a function where you control all of the inputs: it simply won't allow you to use the disk at all without an external opaque input to that function, one that you cannot inspect or modify.'

Got your attention now?

Now wander over if you haven't been there yet.


'It's no longer your machine; wipe its storage and that machine won't function without explicit permission from Apple. Apple wants your machine to be secure - secure from everyone except Apple (and the governments to which Apple must answer). Apple wants your data to be private - private from everyone except Apple (and the governments to which Apple must answer).'

'These systems are now insecure by design. There is no way for them to be made secure.'

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