Thanks to the Zoom fiasco, which left a secret server to share the webcam running on Macs from anyone who had previously installed the videoconferencing application, Apple released two silent updates last week.
These silent updates are security patches that Apple can apply to your Mac automatically, without asking you first. They are relatively rare, and are an excellent way for Apple to repair security holes almost instantly. They are especially useful for the type of user who never bothers to run software updates.
But, what if you're a Mac nerd? Maybe you want to have an opinion on this kind of thing. Or maybe you run IT for a company and do not want it to be installed on business Macs without you checking it first. Can you turn off Apple's silent updates? If you can. Here's how.
How to turn off Apple silent updates
Silent updates are enabled by default, as expected. To turn them off, go to System Preferences on your Mac. In High Sierra, you will find the settings in the App Store panel. In Mojave, it is in Software update> Advanced .
Open it, then look for the following check box:
Install the system data files and security updates
Deselect to avoid future silent updates. This is what it looks like in High Sierra:
And in Mojave:
What happens if you turn off automatic Mac updates?
If you deactivate the silent updates, the security corrections that it contains will be applied. once you run a manual software update. However, you might have to wait a bit, as these silent updates do not appear in the list of available updates. Therefore, it is worth thinking carefully before unchecking this box. It will restore a theoretical sense of "control" for yourself, but you can also be giving much more control to the bad actors, like Zoom, and to the people who exploited the Zoom malware.
Second, how many other things happen on your Mac without you knowing exactly what is going on? If you trust a provider (Apple) enough to take care of your passwords, photos, private documents and financial information, then you should probably also trust that you will repair the security holes.