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View Full Version : Do you really doesnít need any Antivirus or Firewall on Mac?


sash
Jan 30, 2005, 05:49 AM
Hi friends,

The question might seems not relevant at all, because the popular point of view is that you donít really need any Antivirus or Firewall on Mac. Thatís at least what Iím hearing all the years since Iíve got a Mac (some 5-6 years).

BUT. Is it really so unnecessary?

All these years the folks whoíve worked on Mac where mostly professionals, isnít it? Now that Apple is trying to spread its machines as much as possible, lowering the prices, and having in mind that Ďevery 10th iPod user switches to Mací etc., how long the Mac-world would remain virus-free and so immune from all these sad things of Wintel?

So, what are you thinking about the necessity of any AV and Firewall on Mac? Does anybody using it on his/her (critical important) Macs?

Thanks,
Sash

Blue Velvet
Jan 30, 2005, 06:03 AM
No, you 'doesn't' really need virus protection on your Mac.

In fact, your best anti-virus strategy is to read this site.
One day, when a genuine virus for OS X turns up, it'll be a huuuge story and will be endlessly dicussed right here at MR.

Until then, don't worry about it.

Firewall is built into your OS. In System Preferences>Network you can enable it. Use Apple Help (Apple+Shift+?) to find out more about it.

sash
Jan 30, 2005, 07:04 AM
Next time you'll need some help in Russian -- don't hesitate etc.

You know, I am aware about this built-in firewall, that's quite self-evident so I haven't mentioned in my post 'except the built-in FW'.

Is such a position ('you don't need anything') not a bit asking for problems?

The times when the Apple was the only alternative to the Big Brother are gone and will never come back, and some day all these young and angry linuxmen may start targeting Apple too. As they now are targeting Windows. The reason? Mac OS isn't really free and open. And they will not discuss it in advance with you or Jobs or anybody else. Looks totally impossible? I remember the time one could perfectly work without any AV even on a PC.

Thanks,
Sash

Blue Velvet
Jan 30, 2005, 07:20 AM
Find me one OS X virus and then I may see this as a problem...

There are plenty of more technically-minded threads and posts on this forum and elsewhere explaining why creating and distributing an OS X virus would be a far more difficult proposition than a Windows one.

Also, if most people took the most elementary precautions when using their computers then viruses wouldn't be a problem... how many people will double-click on an unknown attachment they've received in an unsolicited mail, for instance...

virividox
Jan 30, 2005, 07:33 AM
i dont use a software firewall for my mac, but i do have a hardware one that protects my entire network not just my mac

Yvan256
Jan 30, 2005, 09:28 AM
Is such a position ('you don't need anything') not a bit asking for problems?

The problem is that Microsoft's products are so unsecure, so filled with holes, that comparing anyone to Microsoft just can't be done.

The simple fact that you can take any computer on the planet and connect it to the internet (if it can, but I've even read about people doing it with their C64) without getting infected except Microsoft is a sign that something's not right.

Saying that OS X becoming popular implies that it will get viruses simply isn't true. More people will try, but that doesn't imply that they'll be more likely to succeed.

A rock (virus) can rip through a paper wall (Microsoft), but that same rock won't do anything against OS X, BSD, Linux, Unix, etc (10-inch thick steel wall).

Then again, when I read about cellphones getting infected, I do wonder how people code their stuff... (how can something as stupid as a buffer overflow result in the OS running arbitrary code is beyond me).

bousozoku
Jan 30, 2005, 07:36 PM
I use the built-in firewall and wouldn't run without it.

I don't currently have anti-virus protection but consider it a future need. I believe that there will come a time when it's necessary on a Macintosh but I've been running without it for around 5 years now and have not seen a need.

dotdotdot
Jan 30, 2005, 07:57 PM
I use the built-in firewall and wouldn't run without it.

I don't currently have anti-virus protection but consider it a future need. I believe that there will come a time when it's necessary on a Macintosh but I've been running without it for around 5 years now and have not seen a need.

I agree - when i get a Mac im never surfing without the firewall. And when there is a virus, I'll buy a .mac membership and download Virex. But there won't be viruses any time soon.

Every 10th iPod user will switch to a Mac - but how stupid can iPod users be? They purchased iPods (Smart) and know how to put music on them (Smart) and will switch to Apples (smart)

mrgreen4242
Jan 30, 2005, 08:33 PM
I'm sure in the next 5 years we will start to see some Mac viruses. The question is how much damage will they be able to do? You need specific root privledges to alter any system files, so they can't do any permanent damage to your OS. The user accounts in OS X are pretty discreet, so there's little chance that they will be able to affect anything outside of the current user account.

What's more likely is 'virus like' spyware type apps that will find someway to excecute on OS X. They won't hurt anything, but will cause general slowdowns and popups and the like. Even then, I am more than confident that this will happen slow enough to combat effectively as time goes on, via system updates and security improvements.

All in all, I would guess that OS X users will be free of virus, spyware, and internet firewall software for a good 5+ years. They will start to exist but in such limited numbers that simply keeping your OS up to date will protecet you.

Rob

Inspector Lee
Jan 30, 2005, 08:54 PM
I always have my firewall on and I don't use a virus scan. I can use Virex with my .Mac but choose not to. The only time I would consider using a virus scan on a Mac is if I had a Mac/PC home and transferred files occasionally. I may be wrong but I believe a Mac can have viruses and act as a host but none of the viruses will effect OS X.

wwooden
Jan 30, 2005, 09:05 PM
I always have my firewall on and I don't use a virus scan. I can use Virex with my .Mac but choose not to. The only time I would consider using a virus scan on a Mac is if I had a Mac/PC home and transferred files occasionally. I may be wrong but I believe a Mac can have viruses and act as a host but none of the viruses will effect OS X.

Reminds me of when a virus infected my friends AIM program and made her away message something like "check this out", with the out being a link to some page that had the virus. I clicked it and only saw some code. I told her later that the link in her away message didn't work because I didn't see anything special. She was like "Oh no, that is a virus.... did you get it?".....................All I did was smile and laugh. I think you all know how i felt right then. ;)

daveL
Jan 30, 2005, 09:11 PM
It can't hurt.

P.S. I'm getting in the habit of posting trivial and meaningless replies to jack up my status, like everyone else seems to do.

jaromski
Jan 30, 2005, 09:51 PM
I would definately run the software firewall. This prevents outsiders from "port knocking" your system to look for vulnerabilities. Probably a little paranoid, but as Microsoft can attest, better to err on the side of caution.

I don't think the virus software is really necessary unless you download binaries from "questionable" sources. P2P, etc., usually has a higher nasty / file ratio than downloading binaries from corporate sites.

Plus I think the "partitioning" in OS X is much better than Windows. So if something bad happens (usually a trojan) it will just hose your user account, not the entire system. Priviledge separation for the masses.

I probably just echoed the other posts, but I also am trying to up my post count.

-jaromski

sash
Jan 31, 2005, 04:55 AM
I probably just echoed the other posts, but I also am trying to up my post count.
-jaromski

So that's how it works! Then i'll probable die as a newbie.

The question was mainly to know whether this total absence of viruses for Mac OS X is a myth or not. That viruses for older Mac OSs do exist knows everybody (at least I presume so). Although I haven't got any in years before I've switched to X, I've seen a screenshot 8) from a friend of mine who's managed to found one -- after for the first time installing an AV and scanning his machine rather for fun...

And yes, I'm 100 % sure that when let say Korean (or my fellow Russian) kids will be able to afford a Mac -- peaceful Mac-world will be shocked quite good. Has anybody noticed how unfriendly the linux community is beginning to get toward Mac? Quite striking... In some linux media Apple is now pictured as extremely expensive and actually artificially overpriced: "nobody makes Macs except Apple, so Apple is just the same monopoly as MS," -- the best reason for these guys to strike.

So... No viruses for X at all? Not a myth? And Trojans, and spyware, and adware? Is it really so clinically clean? And the macro viruses for MS Office? The last ones do exist for sure.

Thanks,
Sash

Bigheadache
Jan 31, 2005, 05:17 AM
A rock (virus) can rip through a paper wall (Microsoft), but that same rock won't do anything against OS X, BSD, Linux, Unix, etc (10-inch thick steel wall).



I hate to break the illusion for you, but if you visit the Secunia website then you would know that people do find holes in OS X, BSD, Linux, Unix, etc. Luckily for now, all the known OS X holes are patched (according to Secunia today) but that doesn't mean that no one will find one ever. I have seen alerts out on unpatched OS X vulnerabilities for longer than a month before. Yours is the kind of complacency that will get us all into trouble one day.

stepbasin
Jan 31, 2005, 10:42 PM
On the subject of viruses:

Apple tends to have much fewer problems with viruses/spyware/etc. because of the way they engineer their products. If you look at MS's approach (i.e. tie everything together so you can never escape to anything else) as opposed to Apple or Linux, you will see a great difference.

Will Apple eventually have problems? Of course. Will they be as severe as MS's problems? No chance. Spyware seems more likely to be a problem than viruses.

Think about Microsoft's approach to software: Copy someone else idea. Quickly produce a shody product. Begin series of patches to fix core problems. Repeat. Apple (and Linux) thankfully doesn't work that way.

jaromski
Feb 1, 2005, 11:48 AM
So that's how it works! Then i'll probable die as a newbie.

The question was mainly to know whether this total absence of viruses for Mac OS X is a myth or not. That viruses for older Mac OSs do exist knows everybody (at least I presume so). Although I haven't got any in years before I've switched to X, I've seen a screenshot 8) from a friend of mine who's managed to found one -- after for the first time installing an AV and scanning his machine rather for fun...

And yes, I'm 100 % sure that when let say Korean (or my fellow Russian) kids will be able to afford a Mac -- peaceful Mac-world will be shocked quite good. Has anybody noticed how unfriendly the linux community is beginning to get toward Mac? Quite striking... In some linux media Apple is now pictured as extremely expensive and actually artificially overpriced: "nobody makes Macs except Apple, so Apple is just the same monopoly as MS," -- the best reason for these guys to strike.

So... No viruses for X at all? Not a myth? And Trojans, and spyware, and adware? Is it really so clinically clean? And the macro viruses for MS Office? The last ones do exist for sure.

Thanks,
Sash

1. Viruses won't ever be a big deal on OS/X. I know that is a bold statement/prediction, but there is a fundamental architecture difference between a *BSD system and the Mirosoft system. The biggest is the concept of priviledge separation. Next on the list is how Windows has bridged several elements in the user-space into kernel-space. This makes the program run faster (e.g. IE does this) but you can really get hosed if something nasty happens. Last (which may or may not be a factor in the future) is market share. OS/X simply doesn't have enough market share to make itself a target...yet. I think it is around 2-3%. If I were a hacker I would target the biggest, easiest systems, because my payout would naturually be much higher. But it really excarbates the problem when all Windows users run as root, by default. They also ship XP (prior to SP2) with all services on and no firewall. They essentially put a big target on each machine and said "have at it" to the hacker crowd. Conversely, all OS/X users run as normal users with the ability (provided you give the correct password) to use sudo or install software. This is a huge improvement in security since you are "firewalling" the users from the system. So if all Windows users are running as root the efficacy of an exploit goes to 100% on each infection. I would say your efficacy would be much less on the OS/X or Linux or BSD exploits because of the intrinsic security of their respective systems.

2. Linux vs. Mac. There are definately some Linux zealots. But there are Mac zealots, too. I used to be hardcore Linux guy, but after using Mac I think OS/X is far superior to Linux. So I guess that makes me a Mac zealot. :) Linux will be a fringe element for quite some time. It needs to be dumbed-down for the masses. But why bother? Are you really saving that much time and money using Linux? Maybe for some server apps, but for consumer apps I don't think Linux has the critical mass. But it could very well develop over the next 5-10 years.

-jaromski

madmaxmedia
Feb 1, 2005, 12:32 PM
I think at the very least a firewall would be best. If you have a router (wired or wireless) they almost all have some sort of firewall protection that you can enable.

Once you do, the router will typically log all attempts to connect to your network, and you'll see that it does happen.

I don't run any antivirus software on my Macs. Actually I didn't on my notebook PC either (after the free trail expired), but I don't use Outlook or IE on that computer, and rarely had to deal with attachments from strangers, etc. Although a friend could certainly get infected, and send an infected file to me...

sash
Feb 12, 2005, 03:26 AM
This text comes right from .Mac site ( http://www.mac.com/1/iTour/tour_antivirus.html ). Believe it or not, but there are 'more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs' which can harm your Mac. That aren't my words! That's kind of an official statement of Apple as it is placed on it's official website along with the product the company is selling.

Here goes the original text:

McAfee Security Advantage
Award-winning Virex from McAfee helps keep your Mac safe from more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs, employing the same industrial-strength engine used to protect millions of computers world wide. McAfee's Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (AVERT) provides the information used to develop automatic Virex anti-virus updates for your continued security.

It's a Jungle Out There
Every time you save an email attachment or download a file from the web, you're risking exposure to viruses and other types of dangerous programs. The second-most prevalent type of virus, Macro viruses, can attack both Macs and PCs. That's why .Mac membership comes with full-strength virus protection (a US$50 value): Virexģ from McAfee Securityģ, the first choice in anti-virus software for the Mac.

Blue Velvet
Feb 12, 2005, 04:03 AM
This text comes right from .Mac site ( http://www.mac.com/1/iTour/tour_antivirus.html ). Believe it or not, but there are 'more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs' which can harm your Mac. That aren't my words! That's kind of an official statement of Apple as it is placed on it's official website along with the product the company is selling.

Here goes the original text:

McAfee Security Advantage
Award-winning Virex from McAfee helps keep your Mac safe from more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs, employing the same industrial-strength engine used to protect millions of computers world wide. McAfee's Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (AVERT) provides the information used to develop automatic Virex anti-virus updates for your continued security.

It's a Jungle Out There
Every time you save an email attachment or download a file from the web, you're risking exposure to viruses and other types of dangerous programs. The second-most prevalent type of virus, Macro viruses, can attack both Macs and PCs. That's why .Mac membership comes with full-strength virus protection (a US$50 value): Virexģ from McAfee Securityģ, the first choice in anti-virus software for the Mac.



Hmm... only because they want to sell you something.

"keep your Mac safe from more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs" -- that's disingenuous, none of them are actually written for Macs.

Who's word would you rather take for it? The hundreds of people here who don't use anti-virus protection and have nothing to sell you or the corporate bleatings of Virex who only want your money?

sash
Feb 12, 2005, 05:56 AM
Who's word would you rather take for it? The hundreds of people here who don't use anti-virus protection and have nothing to sell you or the corporate bleatings of Virex who only want your money?

Actually, that aren't the words of Virex, it's rather a statement of Apple as Apple put them as one of the reasons to buy the .Mac.

Is Apple lying? Even if this is an advertisement, one may not just lie, just say what he / she thinks will boost the sales, the selling points have to be reasonable grounded, otherwise it means misleading of the customers and could constitute a crime. No more and no less.

Iíve already told that in all years Iím working on Mac I havenít got any Mac viruses. But this is my individual experience and it may not correspond with the experience of others. The reason Iíve asked this question is to get a broader picture of the situation and to understand what is here just an urban legend and what is the truth. Macro viruses do exist, no doubt, and what about the spyware?

Ok, there arenít Mac viruses at all. Why the hell Apple offers virus protection as a part of .Mac? Have they all gone mad?

slightly
Feb 12, 2005, 07:51 AM
Here's something that illustrates Apple's true outlook on the threat of viruses in OS X.

Apple produces service training material, provided to Apple Certified Technicians and Apple-Authorised Service Centres, that details the diagnostic and repair steps to take when troubleshooting a Mac. Under OS 9, one of the first stages was "check for known viruses". Under OS X, there's no mention of viruses, worms, trojans or other malware anywhere in the material.

Apple's "85,000 viruses" statement is a deceptive claim boasting about a strawman that's much less dangerous than anything the user could do (just browse through the Apple Discussion forums any day of the week).

Matt

Mitthrawnuruodo
Feb 12, 2005, 09:21 AM
Keep your firewall on at all time, an easy protection against most cracking programs, whitch tries to break into all kinds of *nix systems...

Forget about anti virus, they're only using your system resources without ever catching as much as a cold. The 85000 includes all Windows, *nix and Mac OS 9 virus/worms/trojans, there has not been any designed especially for OS X, except for a couple of concept viruses, which really was just a script which executed from a website and tried to perfom a "rm -r *", which would create havoc with your home folder, but unless you gave it your root password, it wouldn't touch your system. VB macro virus for Office programs was affecting Macs too, but there hasn't been any new ones since, literarly, last century, about the time when M$, in their highly doubtfully wisdom, made the option "Warn before running macros", or whatever, default...

If you still are paranoid, try Little Snitch and/or Paranoid Android (an APE module) and keep your System updated and have current backups, and you should be fine for all forseeable future.

daveL
Feb 12, 2005, 12:11 PM
Ok, there arenít Mac viruses at all. Why the hell Apple offers virus protection as a part of .Mac? Have they all gone mad?
Apple offers a number of free, or discounted, software downloads for .Mac customers, ranging from Web publishing to games to backup software to Virex. Given all the press about virus attacks, even though they're targeted at M$, it's natural for Apple to show they have a solution. All in all, Apple is simply offering these software downloads to add value to the .Mac subscription. That doesn't mean Apple is implying that there's a serious OS X virus threat.

sash
Feb 12, 2005, 12:57 PM
If you still are paranoid

Oh boy... Being curious is not necessary equal to being paranoid, you know.

dotdotdot
Feb 12, 2005, 01:03 PM
This text comes right from .Mac site ( http://www.mac.com/1/iTour/tour_antivirus.html ). Believe it or not, but there are 'more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs' which can harm your Mac. That aren't my words! That's kind of an official statement of Apple as it is placed on it's official website along with the product the company is selling.

Here goes the original text:

McAfee Security Advantage
Award-winning Virex from McAfee helps keep your Mac safe from more than 85,000 viruses and other dangerous programs, employing the same industrial-strength engine used to protect millions of computers world wide. McAfee's Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (AVERT) provides the information used to develop automatic Virex anti-virus updates for your continued security.

It's a Jungle Out There
Every time you save an email attachment or download a file from the web, you're risking exposure to viruses and other types of dangerous programs. The second-most prevalent type of virus, Macro viruses, can attack both Macs and PCs. That's why .Mac membership comes with full-strength virus protection (a US$50 value): Virexģ from McAfee Securityģ, the first choice in anti-virus software for the Mac.

Those are for Windows... if you get Virex and there is ONE mac virus developed, it will work in Windows also I guess -once virus wirters can figure out Mac OSX, then maybe 20,000 of 85,000 could be recoded to "support" OSX - they do that on Windows anyway to make it stronger...
---
also, someone said that Apple patches all the known OSX viruses... or something like that.

Microsoft patches all the incredibly powerful viruses, but there are so many that they can't POSSIBLY patch all and still make new versions of their OS.

If they patched every virus by themselves, then we would all be on Windows 98...

Also, Microsoft is now developing an AntiVirus Program and an Anti spyware program.

Peterkro
Feb 12, 2005, 01:06 PM
or more to the point brought antivirus and antispyware programs.

Mitthrawnuruodo
Feb 13, 2005, 02:23 PM
Oh boy... Being curious is not necessary equal to being paranoid, you know.

Well, the name of one of the little protection programs I recommended is Paranoid Android (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/23463), and I'm paranoid enough to keep it running. ;)

I've also tried Little Snitch for a little while, but not sure I'm gonna keep it at the end of the trial...

oingoboingo
Feb 13, 2005, 02:59 PM
there has not been any designed especially for OS X, except for a couple of concept viruses, which really was just a script which executed from a website and tried to perfom a "rm -r *", which would create havoc with your home folder, but unless you gave it your root password, it wouldn't touch your system.

For most users, having their home directory scrubbed clean, containing all their e-mail, photos, movies, documents, music etc etc is a far worse outcome than having their system folder destroyed. OS X is easily re-installed, as are applications. Without frequent backups (which we all should be doing anyway, but many don't) the loss of the user's home directory is about as big a home computing catastrophe as can be imagined.

tobio
Feb 13, 2005, 03:22 PM
http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/analyses/shrenepoa.html

the amount of viruses for mac is teeny. (approx 30) and most of them seem to effect OS8 and earlier, but not all of them.

I think is is worth running antivirus software. It doesn't take up that much of an overhead on the system, and its better to be safe than sorry.

Mitthrawnuruodo
Feb 13, 2005, 03:53 PM
For most users, having their home directory scrubbed clean, containing all their e-mail, photos, movies, documents, music etc etc is a far worse outcome than having their system folder destroyed. OS X is easily re-installed, as are applications. Without frequent backups (which we all should be doing anyway, but many don't) the loss of the user's home directory is about as big a home computing catastrophe as can be imagined.
That's why I specified that such a script would "create havoc" with your home folder, and went on to recommend keeping current backups (among other things). That way you probably would be far better protected than with Virex or any other current AV software...

And protecting your system migth seem less important than your data, but if scripts get control over your system it can do even worse things before deleteing your home folder...

Platform
Feb 14, 2005, 02:30 AM
Well, the name of one of the little protection programs I recommended is Paranoid Android (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/23463), and I'm paranoid enough to keep it running. ;)


It look's to me that this is a FREE program for MAC OS X that fixes the "rumored" new mac virus/worm :confused: is it really :confused:

Mitthrawnuruodo
Feb 14, 2005, 03:19 AM
It look's to me that this is a FREE program for MAC OS X that fixes the "rumored" new mac virus/worm :confused: is it really :confused:
APE and Paranoid Android is also freeware. And, yes, one of the main threats PA was designed to protect against is fixed in a security update, but PA also kicks in when other suspicious things happen, mainly when programs unexpectedly tries to connect to the net... not just new programs like the Apple fix...

Platform
Feb 14, 2005, 03:56 AM
APE and Paranoid Android is also freeware. And, yes, one of the main threats PA was designed to protect against is fixed in a security update, but PA also kicks in when other suspicious things happen, mainly when programs unexpectedly tries to connect to the net... not just new programs like the Apple fix...

Thanks for that

Now I can't see any other major dangers out there or is there :confused:
(that OS X can't be protected from)

jaromski
Feb 14, 2005, 11:40 AM
In OS/X if you have an ingress and egress firewall solution I don't think you would have much of a virus problem. I know you can turn on ingress firewalling with a push of a button, but as far as egress (outbound) firewall, does anybody know how to do that in OS/X?

-jaromski

fartheststar
Feb 14, 2005, 11:53 AM
It can't hurt.

P.S. I'm getting in the habit of posting trivial and meaningless replies to jack up my status, like everyone else seems to do.

Lol.....

what he said.