Many would agree that Apple is one of the most successful tech firms across the world, particularly in Silicon Valley. Yet, many would choose to believe that the likes of Facebook and Google can overpower it. This is exactly what the iPhone-maker did – it proved its haters wrong, as reported by CNET.
Recently, Apple reportedly yanked some enterprise certificates. The latter refers to digital signatures that both the company and Google utilize in order to run software on smartphones. This resulted in the shutdown of internal apps that employees at Facebook and the search engine giant utilized in order to communicate with their co-workers. It even prevented them from finding shuttle buses and testing new features that are meant to be released on the public.
This is simply Apple’s way of showing its power. Despite not responding to request from media for comments, it decided to restore both of Facebook and Google’s certificates. The latter confirmed that its internal apps are up and running again while the former confirmed the story.
Basically, the spat involving these companies jumpstarted after Facebook was believed to have taken advantage of a certain program built by Apple. By essence, it gives companies the ability to design apps for private corporate use. Even more so, it lets them test apps way before they become available to the public for use.
By using a certificate directly from Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, the social media giant distributed a market research app that offered people around $20 a month. By doing so, they will be able to the tech firm access directly to their phone and web activity. This data that the platform could access and view included location data and even private messages.
But the situation only worsened as soon as Google announced that it also utilized the same enterprise certificate. This time, though, it was used for a market research app called Screenwise Meter. This app, in particular, gave the search engine giant access to a user’s phone activity. Heck, the company even offered gift cards just for people to download and use the app.
For Apple, what Facebook and Google did is a clear violation of its Developer Enterprise Program. This is due to the fact that both companies distributed their respective apps to consumers instead of just their employees. As a result, the iPhone maker decided to block the apps by simply revoking the firms’ enterprise certificates – a move that resulted to the shutdown of apps by which employees from Google and Facebook rely on at their headquarters.
An enterprise is significant in this topic. An iPhone is unable to run unless the app has been signed through a cryptographic stamp of approval – and this is called a digital certificate. This allows the iOS to verify that the app was written by an authorized party and, more importantly, has not been tampered with.
Apple signs software directly downloaded from its App Store, and it does so with its very own certificate. Apps distributed to users will not get this certificate until Apple itself vetted for it and, at the same time, made it available on the App Store.
Interestingly, companies have other methods of obtaining this certificate. The Apple Developer Enterprise Program, in particular, allows them to apply for an Apple-supplied certificate meant for their respective software or application. But in order to qualify, they must jump through a couple of hoops and pay at least $299 a year.
As soon as they are deemed qualified, they can utilize the certificate in order to approve and distribute software to iPhones and/or iPads for employees to use. If this certificate is not present or not installed, these apps would automatically be considered “completely untrusted.” In other words, people will not be able to install or run them.