The computer operating systems and applications we use today have often evolved over many years, decades even, and contain tens or hundreds of millions of lines of code. Flaws in that code – and there will always be some – give rise to security problems that, in an internet-connected world, are an increasing problem. Many are found in code written in the C++ programming language – in Microsoft Windows, in Java, in applications such as Abode Flash or Reader, the Outlook email client, browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, and increasingly Linux and OS X. Any issues found to affect Linux and other Unix-like operating systems causes problems for Apple because OS X is Unix-like in nature. Apple’s decision to redevelop a new operating system for the Macintosh based on Unix was a momentous one. A family of related operating systems, Unix has evolved since the early 1970s and continues to be used and developed today. Technically OS X is a “Unix-like” operating system called Darwin; Linux is another Unix-like operating system. This decision meant the company could rely on the stability of Unix and focus on the user experience. Will this decision return to bite Apple, however? The flaws now being discovered in Unix-like operating systems also affect OS X. Many bugs are being found that have gone unnoticed for years – the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL for example relates to C++ code written by Eric Young in 1998.
Buchanan, W. J. (2014). iWorm hack shows Macs are vulnerable too