Previous 1 2 3 Next 34 Replies Latest reply: Feb 4, 2008 2:34 PM by CodLBi Go to original post
  • Michael K Murray Level 1 Level 1 (130 points)
    I once had a virus from an infected floppy disk so you can guess how long ago that was. I don't understand the technical stuff but I wouldn't worry about market share growth being an issue. I think it is around 5% and I would think we would be all over the moon if it went to 10%. I can't see that being of much interest to the virus writing community.

    Now if only someone would explain that to my work tech support and they would stop demanding to install Mcafee remotely on my mac

  • Freddie Herbst Level 2 Level 2 (275 points)
    Is a Mac really virus free ?

    just came across this :
  • Michael K Murray Level 1 Level 1 (130 points)
    Now you get into an argument about what is a virus Googling gave me this link

    which suggests it is not very dangerous. Note that you have to work quite hard to catch this `virus' and that it is a lot less dangerous if you are NOT running as admin user which is a good idea.

  • Barry Hemphill Level 8 Level 8 (37,065 points)
    Hello Gilles:

    There are NO documented viruses that affect a Mac running OS X - NONE.

    There are a number of reasons advanced - some with merit, some anecdotal.

    IMHO, the best reason is the UNIX operating system that OS X rides upon. UNIX was developed in the mainframe era and is VERY robust. If you look backward, you will not find that people were able to hack into mainframe environments.


    Message was edited by: Barry Hemphill
  • Tony T1 Level 6 Level 6 (8,870 points)
    Correct, it is only a lesser target as it has a lesser market share.

    I've heard this may times, but it does not make sense to me for two reasons. First, someone who writes a virus does not receive income based on the number of machines infected. They do it for the notoriety, which leads to the second reason. As OS X has few reported virus, this would give them an incentive to write a mac virus.
  • smithrj Level 4 Level 4 (1,540 points)
    Untrue, they try to infect as many users as possible. I don't want an argument, this could go on forever. Macs are free for now. Will they always be so? I cannot say, and nor can anyone. True, to write a script that infects Macs would be a hackers dream, yet OSx is more difficult and less used in business. Windows in not based on the Unix platform already mentioned and I'm done. Common sense tells me nothing is static with technology.

  • sunstriker Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I think a major reason why OS X/Unix/Linux are very safe is the most simple reason: You need administrator access for almost everything (typing sudo, giving an administrator password) that's not a common user task. A program or a user can never do damage to anything but their own files unless they are given the rights to do so. M$ has implemented this recently in vista (UAC) but I doubt it is really helpful. Anyway Unix was indeed much more secure from the beginning because it's user based and it's filesystem works with permissions. Now NTFS also works with permissions but the early FAT32 did not. At the time of WIN98 windows was extremely insecure. Anyone could just destroy anything.
    I think security of windows has much improved but it's far from the security of Unix-based systems.
    I'm a intensive linux user for about 2 years now, and a half year a Mac user. Before that I used Windows (I still do for .NET programming) all the time, and I never had a virus. I never paid for antivirus software (used free products).
    I think the main reason for switching to mac (or linux) does not have to be that os x can't be infected but because it's just overall better (performance, user-friendly...)
  • smithrj Level 4 Level 4 (1,540 points)
    Well said, but as you well know this argument can lead nowhere. It goes on forever, everyone has their opinion. You stated it well. I hate this thread, yet strangely attracted.

  • Kurt Lang Level 8 Level 8 (35,970 points)
    There have been more than a few threads on these forums for this subject. Here's a couple.

    You'll see that for now, what malware exists for OS X is in the form of Trojans. Programs you must download and initiate yourself before any damage can be done. To date, there is not a single self propagating virus that effects OS X.
  • gumsie Level 4 Level 4 (2,155 points)
    Should we Mac users not just remain quiet and smug in our 'safety'? Every time I hear someone say that there are no viruses for the platform, it makes me think that someone else out there gets closer and closer to writing one just to shut us up. Secure platform or not, nothing is impenetrable and as the amount of Mac hardware and software increases it brings our stuff closer and closer to the attention of more and more serious hackers and sooner or later..........
    Your friend wants one, extol the virtues quietly and lets remain smug AND safe.
  • Kurt Lang Level 8 Level 8 (35,970 points)
    Should we Mac users not just remain quiet and smug in our 'safety'? Every time I hear someone say that there are no viruses for the platform, it makes me think that someone else out there gets closer and closer to writing one just to shut us up.

    Oh, I think it's a pretty darn good bet that more than a few perps are trying.

    Secure platform or not, nothing is impenetrable...

    Exactly! Computers wouldn't be usable if they were so secure you couldn't launch a program, open a file, save a file, etc. without some kind of authorization first. People would get tired of that in about 10 minutes and never want to use a computer again.

    There has to be a certain amount of openness to the system to allow for fluid use of the device. So there's a border that has to be ridden between use and protection. An OS that is open enough (which of course includes OS X) to allow you to do most of what you want without having to constantly enter passwords, is also open enough to allow software to be written to do things you don't want.

    Just be vigilant. Watch and read the news and keep an eye on Mac centric forums like this one. It's a sure thing that when a true virus hits OS X, it will be ALL over the news.
  • Peter Arnold1 Level 5 Level 5 (7,350 points)
    Yes, I was referring to the "Security through Obscurity myth".

    Understanding why OS X is a fundamentally more secure environment requires a background in computer science fundamentals and operating system design. It's not something that can be addressed adequately in a short message on a discussion forum. It is also a subject that brings out individuals with preconceived ideas, biases and often individuals with an axe to grind. These factors make rational discussions of the subject difficult. It also means there is a lot of misinformation floating around.

    Some respondents in this thread have pointed out a few of the primary factors that contribute to OS X's superior security. Perhaps you can pass that information on to the friends you are trying to convince of OS X's superior security. However, if you are looking for in-depth proof for you and your friends, you'll need to spend considerable time gaining an understanding of the underlying technology.
  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,915 points)
    There is a malware package that injects code based on platform, and they have a package that can attack Mac OS X.

    Javascript, QuickTime, Flash, and your social networking sites are prime targets today.

    Apple patches QuickTime vulnerability
    Multiple vulnerabilities:

    +Beware of pop-up security fakes+
    Ever been surfing along and get a pop-up window telling you to scan or disinfect, and offering you a handy product to do so? Seem too good to be true? That's because it is—it's adware.

    These have lately shown up on Macs. Don't fall prey.

    Web sites have had their ad-server and MySQL infected. Sites you normally trust.

    Firefox hopes to have out 'soon' to address an issue that has surfaced. One area are the Extensions that some use.

    Also, if you use Firefox, the NoScript add-on helps prevent a cross-site scripting attack (XSS).

    Mac OS X and Unix:
    Mac OS X is continuing to win over consumers. Although the only malicious programs for the operating system are proof of concept, malicious users will increasingly focus on Mac OS X as the number of users grows. This means it will be necessary to analyze malicious programs for Mac OS X on a more frequent basis.

    Happily, Mac OS X has many tools which can be used both to analyze other programs and for system diagnosis in general. Furthermore, more third-party programs are emerging which can be used both by IT experts and amateur researchers alike.
  • David DeCristoforo Level 5 Level 5 (6,170 points)
    So...all of the above. But here's a fact for you. I have never run any anti-malware software on any of my Macs. Ever. And none of my Macs has been attacked. Ever. When I run windoze, the AV app is blocking one attack after another. The little notice window pops up so often that it's hard to get anything done. The app is so proud of itself..."Blah Blah has blocked an attempt to infect your system yada yada yada". So is it possible for a Mac to be attacked? Sure it's possible. Is it probable? Not at this time. Is that subject to change? Of course it is. Do you need to worry about it now? No, you don't. Why? I said, any or all of the above.....

  • Gilles H. Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)
    Peter Arnold1 wrote:
    […] you can pass that information on to the friends you are trying to convince of OS X's superior security.

    Thanks Peter Arnold, I did that (in fact I gave my friend and her husband the address of Apple Discussions) and they told me this morning that the UNIX reason was very convincing. Two more switchers as of next week.

    Many thanks to all who contributed to answer my question.