Apple’s Big Sur Mac Update Sparks Data Privacy Concerns

A new feature included in the latest Mac update is believed to pose data privacy issues for users, said Coin Desk. Reports say that this logging feature is incredibly difficult to bypass, unlike previous versions.

Last week, Mac users noticed that their devices were lagging. This incident was observed as Apple deployed the latest OS update called Big Sur. Following this, the company’s servers were disrupted because of a “technical error,” as per Coin Desk.

A report by 9 to 5 Mac said that the error caused a “widespread Big Sur download/install failures.” iMessage and Apple Pay were also affected. Moreover, the devices with macOS Catalina and earlier exhibited performance issues.

Mac Update Sparks Data Privacy Concerns

The affected servers are used for OCSP requests, which are described as “the packets of data that verify a computer’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate when it accesses online applications.”

Coin Desk said that Mac devices shut down because the requests did not reach Apple’s servers. Upon closer inspection, some users found that the reason for this is that when users open online and offline applications, the OCSP servers get alerted.

The said actions are “tagged and traced” by the said servers, so failures in the server can cause failures in the operations of Mac devices.

OCSP requests have been around since the Catalina update. However, some programs can help bypass this logging feature. Firewalls such as Little Snitch and virtual private networks (VPNs) were able to dodge the tracker.

The new Big Sur feature is believed to “demonstrate some of the inherent flaws in centralized data collection.” Without a way for the average user to sidestep the logger, they may have to find an alternative way to protect their data.

Meanwhile, Apple has been positioning itself as a champion of privacy. Users who choose to stick with their devices should simply trust that the company does not engage in data sharing, whether with private organizations or with the government.

The 9 to 5 Mac report said that Apple’s response to the issue is to release a security and privacy support document emphasizing that it separates malware checking app data from Apple users’ information.

However, the company said that it will be deploying changes “over the next year” to improve the security and flexibility for Mac devices. Particularly, the company said it will cease IP address logging when checking app notarizations.