Mac OS security updates withdrawn four years after release

One in five Macs possibly at risk as Apple Snow Leopard support ends

Up to a fifth of Macs could be at risk following Apple’s withdrawal of updates for the Snow Leopard operating system.

Following a security update for the latest Mac OS, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Computerworld reported that OS X 10.6 – Snow Leopard – was not on the list of patched operating systems for the second time running, suggesting support had been withdrawn.

Snow Leopard was launched in 2009, and the withdrawal of support roughly four and a half years later makes the OS the second-longest supported Apple operating system behind OS X 10.4 Tiger, which lasted five months longer.

The OS is estimated to still be the system of choice for almost a fifth (19 per cent) of Mac users, meaning that one in five systems could now be at risk from security exploits and attacks.

While the IT world gears up for the long-anticipated and discussed end of support for Windows XP in April, which itself has spawned worries of security breaches, Apple has continued its history of sudden OS abandonments.

"Let’s face it, Apple doesn’t go out of their way to ensure users are aware when products are going end of life," commented Andrew Storms, director of DevOps at security firm CloudPassage.

However, one reason for the lack of fanfare over Snow Leopard’s end rather than that of XP may be the free availability of the latest OS X version, Mavericks, to users of the now defunct software – users still running Snow Leopard may wish to consider updating now that support has ended.

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