Macworld recommends theft of Mac OS X
Published March 20th, 2014 at 8:01 AM EDT , modified March 20th, 2014 at 9:14 AM EDT
Once upon a time, Macworld was one of the most respected Mac-related periodicals out there. How times have changed! I have just come across a story on the Macworld web site, published early this morning, that not only recommends the use of stolen copies of Mac OS X, but also provides instructions on exactly how to do this!
I will not link to this article, providing it with additional free publicity. Instead, see the short excerpt in the screenshot at right.
As you can see from this excerpt, Chris Barylick, the author of the piece, is fully aware of the fact that what he is recommending is illegal, unethical and potentially dangerous. Yet he nonetheless proceeds to provide the information, through the site of a publication that many people will trust. To say this is irresponsible is like saying that Hitler wasn’t a very nice guy.
Obviously, the legal and ethical concerns here are significant. The argument, made in the article, that Apple no longer provides disks for older systems is irrelevant. It does not matter whether the software is no longer being sold… Apple is the sole owner of these systems, and I’m sure Apple’s legal department will be all over this like a monkey on a banana.
However, worse is the flagrant disregard for the security of MacWorld readers! Downloading stolen software via torrents is dangerous behavior, and is known to be a source of malicious software. The best-known case was the iServices malware, which was disguised initially as iWork apps and distributed via peer-to-peer sharing networks. In recent weeks, there have been reports of Mac adware/malware named Downlite that is infecting machines that have downloaded stolen apps through torrents.
So, even if you can find yourself unconcerned at the “victimless” crime of stealing outdated versions of Mac OS X, you should be appalled at the unconcern for the safety of Macworld readers.
As an aside, I noticed that at the top of the Macworld page containing this article was a big green “Download” button that is part of a Genieo ad. Genieo is now detected by at least a dozen (or more, depending on the variant) anti-virus engines on VirusTotal as malware, adware or an unwanted app, yet there’s a great big ad linking to this software, right there on a Macworld page.
It’s sad to see this. I remember when I used to read Macworld religiously, and kept years of back issues on a shelf. Those issues have long since ended up in the recycling bin, however, and I haven’t had a subscription to Macworld in several years. It’s simply no longer useful to keep a subscription to a periodical that is a month or more out-of-date by the time it reaches your mailbox. And perhaps it’s this decline in readership that has Macworld using such questionable techniques to attract readers and keep advertising dollars.
Nonetheless, there are simply some things that should not be done, even if it means allowing your company to go bankrupt. Providing instructions on how to steal software and linking to something that is considered to be malware by some security companies are two of those things.
March 20, 2014 @ 9:10 am: Mark Allan, developer of ClamXav, points out that anyone can legally obtain old versions of Mac OS X simply by signing up for an Apple Developer account.