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Apple virus protection?

5889 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Mar 31, 2008 12:03 PM by bdkjones RSS
optar Calculating status...
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Mar 29, 2008 4:48 PM
now i know that Apples are superior in virus protection because of how they don't allow hidden files to work and that stuff but should i buy virus software? or am i able to open safari with no worries?
currently (Dell dimension 2400), Windows XP, its old and awful
  • Douglas McLaughlin Level 9 Level 9 (63,735 points)
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    Mar 29, 2008 4:51 PM (in response to optar)
    While there may not be a virus for Mac OS X yet, it could happen one day, so you might want to be prepared to protect yourself. Also, you wouldn't want to accidentally pass-along a Windows virus to one of your friends using Windows (through e-mail, for example). I would recommend using ClamXav. It's free and quite a few people, including me, use it without any issues.

    -Doug
    2GHz Intel iMac 2GB RAM, 500GB HD Super Drive / 2GHz BlackBook 2GB RAM, 250GB HD, Mac OS X (10.5.2), AirPort Express / EyeTV Hybrid / 40GB iPod photo 8GB iPod nano (3G)
  • Juicy J Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
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    Mar 29, 2008 5:03 PM (in response to Douglas McLaughlin)
    Douglas McLaughlin wrote:
    While there may not be a virus for Mac OS X yet, it could happen one day, so you might want to be prepared to protect yourself. Also, you wouldn't want to accidentally pass-along a Windows virus to one of your friends using Windows (through e-mail, for example). I would recommend using ClamXav. It's free and quite a few people, including me, use it without any issues.

    -Doug

    Is the program reliable? i am interested in it.
    BlackBook , Mac OS X (10.5.2), 2 GB of RAM 
  • sam_:-) Calculating status...
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    Mar 29, 2008 8:56 PM (in response to optar)
    i use it and its great.

    not really fast but free and theres always updates.
    Black MacBook 2Ghz Core Duo 2GB, Mac OS X (10.5.2), 4GB iPod Nano 3rd Gen.
  • bdkjones Level 4 Level 4 (1,330 points)
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    Mar 29, 2008 10:03 PM (in response to sam_:-))
    I must respectfully disagree with the above posters. I do not believe there is an advantage to running antivirus software on a Macintosh Computer at this point in time.

    Do not misunderstand: Mac users cannot be arrogant about security. OS X is not bulletproof and you must recognize that. However, there are a few key things that make running antivirus software on Mac a waste:

    1) ANY exploits or viruses that ever come out for OS X are going to be splashed all over the major headlines. Odds are you'll know about them LONG before your virus software provider updates their virus definitions. And, there's a good chance that your antivirus program won't offer any real protection when the first virus hits. The reason is that it takes updated virus definitions for that program to catch a virus.

    2) Antivirus software consumes CPU cycles and wastes RAM. This tradeoff is not necessary because there are ZERO viruses for OS X at this point in time.

    3) Antivirus software installs low-level components throughout system libraries. In short, it's a messy install and if you want to remove it later the process is often hard. (At least for the bigger players like Norton.)

    4) Over the past two years, while zero viruses have come out for the Mac, several antivirus products have caused big problems. From flagging uninfected files as false-positives to causing compatibility issues during upgrades, these apps are more trouble than they're worth at this point.

    Bottom Line: If you approach security carefully, stay mindful of what you're doing and where you're going on the internet, and keep your system updated and locked down, you have no need for antivirus software.

    Finally, NEVER get your Mac security news from ANY source that has a vested interest in promoting FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Look at who's writing a report -- if it's a company that writes an antivirus suite, realize that they have an ulterior motive in making you feel unsafe: they want your cash. I recommend watching TUAW, Daring Fireball, and Roughly Drafted for Mac security news.

    Here is a good article about securing OS X:

    http://www.macgeekery.com/tips/security/basicmac_os_xsecurity
    2.5 Ghz MacBook Pro, 4GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Douglas McLaughlin Level 9 Level 9 (63,735 points)
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    Mar 31, 2008 8:55 AM (in response to bdkjones)
    1) ANY exploits or viruses that ever come out for OS X are going to be splashed all over the major headlines. Odds are you'll know about them LONG before your virus software provider updates their virus definitions. And, there's a good chance that your antivirus program won't offer any real protection when the first virus hits. The reason is that it takes updated virus definitions for that program to catch a virus.


    Okay, then why would ANYONE ever run any anti-virus software? If it's going to fail for everyone, there'd really be no point at all would there? I think you're completely wrong about this point. The fact that Windows users have anti-virus software running that DOES catch viruses, including new ones with updates, proves that you're wrong about this point. Once again, it's possible to accidentally pass along a Windows virus (via e-mail, for example) to a friend. Isn't it worth attempting to protect your friends?

    2) Antivirus software consumes CPU cycles and wastes RAM. This tradeoff is not necessary because there are ZERO viruses for OS X at this point in time.


    What's your proof? My ClamXav has been running since my last restart (approximately a week ago) and it's now using 1.4% of my CPU and 19.2MB of RAM. I have 2GB of RAM, so would not call that "wasteful".

    3) Antivirus software installs low-level components throughout system libraries. In short, it's a messy install and if you want to remove it later the process is often hard. (At least for the bigger players like Norton.)


    I've never felt the need to remove my anti-virus software, so I can't really comment on this point. However, no one here has recommended anything by Norton yet. ClamXav has a removal tool that opens the Terminal, asks for your password and removes all the back-end files. Then, like most Mac OS X applications, you drag the executable from your /Applications/ folder to the Trash.

    We may never see a Mac OS X virus (and maybe I'm wasting my CPU cycles and RAM) so I may never be able to prove that I'm better prepared than you are, but I don't think your reasons for NOT installing anti-virus software are valid.

    -Doug
    2GHz Intel iMac 2GB RAM, 500GB HD Super Drive / 2GHz BlackBook 2GB RAM, 250GB HD, Mac OS X (10.5.2), AirPort Express / EyeTV Hybrid / 40GB iPod photo 8GB iPod nano (3G)
  • bdkjones Level 4 Level 4 (1,330 points)
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    Mar 31, 2008 11:52 AM (in response to Douglas McLaughlin)
    Hi Douglas,

    Please don't take my disagreement personally.

    Regarding point 1:
    It's not a good idea to compare the antivirus experience on Windows to that on Mac. Antivirus providers on Windows have been providing patches for viruses for decades. On OS X, the only patches that antivirus companies have had to produce are for those same Windows bugs. My contention is simply that Mac antivirus companies have NO proven track record of patching OS X bugs quickly because, to date, there have not been any. (Excepting, of course, the proof-of-concept apps.) In short, the antivirus software is an unproven entity. It could take them a week to offer updated definitions when/if the first real OS X virus hits.


    Regarding Point 2:
    Yes, 1.4% of the CPU and 19 megs of RAM is hardly a massive drain on resources. But that's not really what I meant. I have found that most antivirus apps tend to slow me down by constantly scanning mounted USB flash drives, downloaded files, etc. In other words, it's not the background drain on resources that I'm concerned about. It's the 20 seconds of wasted scanning when I plug in my USB flash drive or when I download a PDF file.


    Regarding Point 3:
    I am glad that ClamAV comes with a removal tool. That is a good thing.


    Regarding "protecting Windows users:"
    No, I do not feel a responsibility to protect Windows users. Mainly because I rarely share files with them and even more rarely share files with them that I did not personally create on my Mac. This means I'm almost never "passing" along a file that came from somewhere else and could be infected with a virus.


    Bottom Line:
    OS X is a very secure operating system. If you are knowledgeable about how it works and careful with what you download and allow to run; if you set your account to a standard user level instead of administrative level and know the standard Daemons that should be running at any time, you really don't need antivirus software.

    That being said, having some can't hurt anything (unless you happen to be one of the people whose computers were messed up by those false-positive fiascos last summer). If you feel a need to help Windows users protect themselves, by all means, run an antivirus app. If you're constantly working with technological idiots who send "trojan.exe" files to each other, by all means, run an antivirus app.

    But if you take the time to learn some basic information about OS X and how to protect yourself, it simply isn't needed. That may not always be the case. There may come a day when viruses make a splash on OS X and no one can afford to run unprotected. But it is not this day.
    2.5 Ghz MacBook Pro, 4GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • bdkjones Level 4 Level 4 (1,330 points)
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    Mar 31, 2008 12:03 PM (in response to Douglas McLaughlin)
    An Addendum:

    I would like to point out, again, just in case a new Mac user reads this thread at some point that you cannot take security for granted on OS X. I am not advocating that. I do not claim that the Mac is immune to threats or bulletproof. Anyone who does claim that is an idiot.

    Whether you run antivirus software or not, you should educate yourself about security on OS X and know at least some basic precautions, like turning on your firewall, disabling unneeded services like printer and web sharing, and running as a standard user instead of an administrator. You should always be aware of where you're going and what you're downloading on the internet. Use common sense.

    Do not assume your Mac is invulnerable.
    2.5 Ghz MacBook Pro, 4GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.5.2)

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