Snow Leopard users left exposed as Apple pulls support for OS

Snow Leopard

Around a fifth of all Macs could be at risk from hacking and malware following the withdrawal of updates for the Snow Leopard operating system. Recent updates to OS X patched flaws in the three latest versions of the desktop operating system: Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks, but neglected to include updates for Snow Leopard, which was launched in 2009. The withdrawal of support after four-and-a-half years makes the OS the second-longest supported Apple OS after Tiger. The OS is estimated to running on almost a fifth (19 per cent) of Macs, which mean these computers could now run the risk of being exploited by hackers and malware. Apple's last security update for Snow Leopard was in September last year. Apple's normal patching policy is to put out updates for the present OS and the previous one. Support for the "n-2" OS normally finishes on the launch day of the latest OS version. However, with Snow Leopard, this lasted a lot longer for.

The latest update means that Lion (the n-2 OS) also got a patch, signifying the OS's continued popularity and the seriousness of the flaw itself. Apple may have a hard time getting people off Snow Leopard, though. The OS was the last to support applications written for the PowerPC chip using the Rosetta translation utility and users are showing no signs of wanting to give these up and upgrade their software.

As reported by IT Pro, Apple was forced into an update of OS X to patch a flaw with its encryption. The OS X Mavericks v10.9.2 patch fixes a vulnerability that alters the way Mac devices handle encrypted communications, and means critical checks on the validity of a site's SSL certificate are overlooked when users try to establish a secure connection.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.