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View Full Version : what stops viruses/adware/spyware is it software or hardware?


Pistol Pete
Jun 5, 2005, 02:34 AM
i was curious to know what stops people from making viruses etc for the mac.

is it the hardware that makes it hard (PPC) or the software (OS X)???

i am asking because if they swith over to intel or amd will people be able to write to write viruses etc easier or want to more because it is x86 based...


if you dont mind clearing me up that would be great!

Thanks in advance!

Peter

mad jew
Jun 5, 2005, 02:40 AM
Firstly, I can't see Apple changing to Intel anytime soon, but that's beside the point.

Opinion, not necessarily fact:
If they ever do, I doubt they'll have it set up so that OSX will run Windows programs so in the same way other x86 operating systems aren't directly affected by Windows viruses, OSX won't be either without some serious re-writing of code somewhere along the line. The move to x86 will mean OSX wont need an x86 emulator to run Windows programs but some sort of emulator will still be needed to imitate the actual Windows OS.

This may well be complete BS and I'm more than willing to be proved wrong by other members. :)

Pistol Pete
Jun 5, 2005, 02:43 AM
but does software or hardware play a larger part in its defense?

mad jew
Jun 5, 2005, 02:48 AM
Tough question. I suppose the differences between PPC and x86 mean a Windows virus cannot penetrate a Mac however if OSX runs on x86, unless there's an inbuilt feature to let Windows programs run natively, the Windows viruses will remain just that. So it's both software and hardware to a degree but it really comes down to software in the end and how the OS is written.

Sorry, I'm really struggling to explain it well here. :o

After G
Jun 5, 2005, 02:58 AM
I would say it is software that provides more protection.

Take for example, Linux on x86. Although there have been viruses for Linux, they haven't been nearly as prevalent as the Windows ones.

Compilers can deal with hardware issues. It's the software that makes or breaks viruses, worms, trojans, etc. They need easy vectors to pass through. And Windows operating systems are some of the best breeding grounds for malicious software (think VBScript, Word macros, Outlook and Internet Explorer, ActiveX, and the list goes on ...) Things that were designed to make legitimate developers' tasks easy also make the virus writers' job easy as well.

shadowmoses
Jun 5, 2005, 04:55 AM
It is the software that is affected by malware not the hard-ware, and it is also mainly the software that allows for spyware, hence the reason windows XP is insecure and easy to get at for hackers, whereas Mac OS X built on Unix is much more secure and far more of a challenge for hackers to penetrate..
SHAdow :eek:

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jun 5, 2005, 06:18 AM
It's both software and hardware:

Mac OS X, like all *nix' have a superior permissions management, and will not let any (potential) harmful apps run without admin/root permission.

PPC processors are also more resistant against one usual attack, where malicious code is executed after a so called buffer overflow. Attackable buffers probably exists in similar numbers in FreeBSD/Mac OS X as they do in Windows (but in the open source FreeBSD holes tend to be discovered and plugged very fast), but where a x86 CPU happily executes the code from a buffer overflow, the PPC will refuse to do so.

That is why there has been a couple of linux viruses, that has only been effective on x86... and why I'm gonna move away from Macs if they switch to an x86 architecture...

mad jew
Jun 5, 2005, 06:22 AM
Thanks Mitthrawnuruodo, that's what I was kind of trying to stumble towards before but you've got more of the knowy knowy stuff (intelligence?) and subsequently made muuuuch more sense.

Just out of interest, what OS will you move to if these Intel rumours are true?

KingSleaze
Jun 5, 2005, 06:25 AM
It's software that allows the malware to do the bad things to the computer. Which is why it has amazed me the ads saying a computer with an AMD 64 processor, running Window XP service pack 2 was more secure than a computer with a different processor might be running the same software. The processor has no idea if the bit of code it is working on is malware or just lousy coding. But people have bought the claims, aren't we just such sheep?

dubbz
Jun 5, 2005, 08:14 AM
... But people have bought the claims, aren't we just such sheep?

The deal with the Athlon 64/Opteron (and newer Pentiums) is that in combination with Windows XP SP2 (or Linux or various BSDs) it provides some protection against Buffer Overflow exploits, thanks to the NX bit.

So in this case, it's actually a combination of hardware and software...

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jun 5, 2005, 08:38 AM
Just out of interest, what OS will you move to if these Intel rumours are true?Probably FreeBSD with WindowMaker (or if I'm lazy KDE) running on a Power™ CPU from IBM, Freescale or whoever wants to license it (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=1502796#post1502796)... :)

Means I would have to brush up on my programming "skills" to tweak the GUI and run some sort of iTunes substitute for my iPod and iTMS purchases (just 8 until now, but still... ;)) But, then I've always wanted an excuse to really learn Python... :D

yellow
Jun 5, 2005, 09:17 AM
OS X will never run on straight x86 hardware. MAYBE Apple will but Intel chip. But they will incorporate them into Apple proprietary hardware. Apple is a hardware company first and foremost. Making OS X x86 compatible will KILL them.

Any OS can have malware written for it. As for the why.. It's OS X. Less holes to exploit. Less exploitable targets.

rickvanr
Jun 5, 2005, 09:49 AM
I would say it is software that provides more protection.

Take for example, Linux on x86. Although there have been viruses for Linux, they haven't been nearly as prevalent as the Windows ones.



I think this is only a semi-valid point. Average Joe Windows user doesn't know much about computers, other then viruses are bad. On the other hand Average Joe Linux is usually very computer savvy so they know how to handle viruses and protect themselves.

KC9AIC
Jun 5, 2005, 11:30 AM
Remember that firewalls do help in blocking malware, and they can be hardware or software.

mkrishnan
Jun 5, 2005, 12:34 PM
I think this is only a semi-valid point. Average Joe Windows user doesn't know much about computers, other then viruses are bad. On the other hand Average Joe Linux is usually very computer savvy so they know how to handle viruses and protect themselves.

This is an important point. A Mac or Linux user who decides they don't need anti-virus software, for instance, is usually really savvy. They could probably even survive pretty well on *Windows* without AV software.

But I still go along with the software side of the story. The hardware prevents *existing* Windows viruses from working on MacOS. The software makes it difficult to create a Mac-specific virus. Not that it can't be done -- if Linux has viruses, then I guess the arguments about Unix-based security are of limited validity.... (I had actually never heard about Linux viruses!) But nonetheless, the amount of security in the default app set in MacOS vs. the default app set in WinXP is very different....

dubbz
Jun 5, 2005, 02:06 PM
(I had actually never heard about Linux viruses!) But nonetheless, the amount of security in the default app set in MacOS vs. the default app set in WinXP is very different....

They can be counted on one hand, plus, AFAIK, the only one that has ever been spread to any degree actually logged all its activities, plus allowed the user of the computer to "uninstall" the virus and clean the infected files with a built-in function... :p

mkrishnan
Jun 5, 2005, 02:47 PM
They can be counted on one hand, plus, AFAIK, the only one that has ever been spread to any degree actually logged all its activities, plus allowed the user of the computer to "uninstall" the virus and clean the infected files with a built-in function... :p

Only in the world of Linux would a virus come with an installer log and receipts. I bet it has a sourceforge page too! :D Because, you know, where else would you go to file a bug report? ;) :eek: :D