Apple brought my iMac to its knees, with a broken security update

The Install History on my iMac reveals Apple's silent and deadly update on 26 February, and the fixed version being installed just over two days later.

Apple has, in the eyes of large numbers of Mac users around the world, revealed itself not as a champion of privacy, but as a bunch of utter incompetents. Although it has yet to admit to it, or to apologise, it is now clear that the cause of my crippled iMac on 28 February was not some weird bug or malware – but a silent Apple security update.

Yes, Apple crippled my iMac for me. Remotely, without so much as a notification as to what it was doing.

What happened was that at 2110 on 26 February, it pushed out an update (version 3.28.1) to its Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data, which included a bug which blocked my iMac from loading the kernel extension which made the Ethernet port work on many Macs, including many of the latest models of iMacs and MacBook Pros.

The next time that all those Macs were started up or restarted once that update had been installed, it blocked that kernel extension, stopping the Mac from even recognising that it had an Ethernet port. In my case, my next restart was at around 0530 on 28 February, but others could have lost their Mac as early as 26th.

As my account reveals, this not only forces you to use AirPort for network connections, but because the Ethernet port MAC address is used to recognise the computer for App Store authentication, it disabled almost every paid-for App Store app. This effectively rendered tens of thousands of Macs worldwide completely useless. This problem also propagated into Apple ID security issues, which I am still in the process of settling down.

The Install History on my iMac reveals Apple’s silent and deadly update on 26 February, and the fixed version being installed just over two days later.

Presumably deluged by support calls, Apple then realised the hideous cock-up which it had made. It then took until 2327 on 28 February (Sunday) to push out a repaired version 3.28.2 of the Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data. By that time those tens of thousands of people whose nearly new Macs were crippled, will have been busy trying to fix a problem which looked as if their hardware had died. As none of us knew what Apple had done, nor had been advised of any solution, I am sure that many were busy re-installing OS X and engaged in all sorts of time-consuming actions.

In my case, I simply downloaded and installed the 10.11.3 Combo updater, which actually only did one important thing: it restarted my Mac and applied the updated update, which allowed it to access its Ethernet port.

So the defender of personal privacy screwed our Macs up because someone released an update which deliberately disabled a key part of the hardware in a large number of Macs. Apple’s quality management is clearly deeply flawed. Apple’s cavalier attitude to the power which it now wields over our Macs is breath-taking. If there was a credible alternative I would switch to it.

Apple, you have a bit of straight-talking to do. We need to know that your divine power over our lives will be exercised wisely, and that you will never, ever screw up like this again.

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Alan Stonebridge at MacFormat for revealing the cause of my problems.