Marketshare to virus ratio is a falsity, right?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Kingsnapped, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. Kingsnapped macrumors 6502a

    Kingsnapped

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    #1
    I'm in the midst of a flamewar at fark.com and somebody is holding really fast to the idea "if more people had Macs, there would be viruses for it." Does anyone think there is any truth to this? Or, better yet, is there anybody with solid evidence to disprove this guy?
     
  2. G5orbust macrumors 65816

    G5orbust

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    #2
    Well if windows is any indication, Id say its a good possibilty.

    I think the main thing is that people just dont want to write viruses for OSX. There is certainly no shortage of holes to exploit and it would be pretty much as easy as writing one for Windows. A virus maker will look for a way to infect as many computers as possible. Because there are many more PC's than macs, its only logical that a virus maker would want to write a PC virus.

    As far as sheer numbers go, Id say the guy is pretty much correct, or at least theres not enough evidence to contradict his claims.
     
  3. Kingsnapped thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Kingsnapped

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    #3
    What about bragging rights though? If I were a hacker, I would want to write a good Mac virus just to do the "undoable."

    If one can brag about running Linux on an X-Box... I think a Mac version of my_doom or whatever would be pretty desirable to a hacker.
     
  4. jtgotsjets macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

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    #4
    But it's not undoable, just boring.

    I think it really has to do with a lot of things.
    1) sheer numbers, what the other guy is saying
    2) traditionally (stereotypically too), PCs are for the computer geeks that write viruses in their spare time and macs are for people that like how they look. I know this isn't true, but their are still a lot more people to write a virus for a PC than a mac
    3) the mac community is much more of a community than the pc community, and we wouldn't want to unleash something bad upon ourselves.
     
  5. Krizoitz macrumors 6502a

    Krizoitz

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    #5
    While it does help that there are smaller numbers, the fact that pre-MacOS X macs (with similarly small marketshare) had atleast SOME viruses implies that its more than just size. I'm sorry but its quite clear that Windows just isn't designed for security, and MacOS X is. While alot of this is because of the stronger security of UNIX, it also has to do with the care that Apple puts into making sure when it implements a technology it doesn't do so half-assed like MS does. Using Visual Basic as a scripting language in a mail program, allowing programs to install without alerting the user or requiring a password, etc. The simple fact is that Windows is like an unlocked building with a sleeping security gaurd, its easy to break into.
     
  6. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #6
    I was reading an article once which tried to cover this issue, it made the point about a version of windows where there was only like [/i]thousands[/i] of users for this particular version (can't remember, but had never heard of it before). In any case, a virus was written for that version and knocked out every single one of them around the planet.

    Go figure, it was even more obscure than OSX.
     
  7. Savage Henry macrumors 65816

    Savage Henry

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    #7

    ? Written with funding from a large software company to eliminate pointless small rogue operating systems still around to bring them into the fold of their more current supported versions.

    Of course, I'm not saying that's what happened, but I've seen enough episodes of The X Files to realise that Governments and big business don't always have our best interests at heart ;)
     
  8. CaptainHaddock macrumors 6502

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    #8
    A good counterexample to the plurality argument is web servers. Apache (running on Linux mostly) outnumbers Microsoft's IIS for web serveres by a margin of 3-to-1 (source: netcraft.com). And yet, there are far more worms and exploits that take advantage of IIS than affect Apache.

    If the argument that Windows has more viruses because it's more common had merit, we'd expect the Apache/IIS situation to be reversed.

    Anyway, if Macs were in the same ballpark as Windows, wouldn't you expect at least a few hundred OS X viruses? There are over 70,000 active worms and viruses for Windows, and a whopping zero on Mac OS X.

    There are plenty of other arguments to be made in the Mac's favour, everything from the inherently secure design of the Mac's Unix architecture to anecdotal data from system administrators. Any sysadmin will tell you that Windows PCs are five times the trouble to maintain.
     
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    Responding to criticism for the large number of viruses affecting its OS in 1999, Microsoft pulled the plurality excuse was pulled out of its @ss. To my astonishment, a lot of people accepted the excuse uncritically. The plurality excuse is a transparent lie on several levels.

    Mac

    In 1989--15 years ago--few, if any Macs were connected to the Internet. There was a steady stream of viruses on the Mac. The stream of viruses on MS-DOS was much larger and more dangerous than Mac viruses, but Mac viruses were a serious issue.

    In 2004--15 years later--there is no stream or even puddle of new Mac viruses. There are a lot more Mac users today than there were in 1989.

    Windows

    The plurality argument fails even on Windows. What many people don't realize is that Windows 95/98/Me has a larger installed base than Windows XP. IIRC, Win 98 alone has a larger installed base than XP. However, the XP-exclusive viruses are much more dangerous than 98-exclusive viruses.

    It should not be forgotten that many Windows viruses are not so much Windows viruses as they are MS Office viruses. The source of Office viruses is Visual Basic for Applications. With MS Word 6, soon followed the first cross-platform virus. With the introduction of MS Office 95 featuring Visual Basic for Applications, virus production skyrocketed. Back in 1989, writing a computer virus required the skills of an assembly language programmer. VBA allows anyone to do it. The combination of Windows/Office/VBA is a virus-enabling technology.
     
  10. kgarner macrumors 68000

    kgarner

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    #10
    Curse you CaptainHaddock, you beat me to it. :D While there is some merit to the whole "ther's more people using Windows, hence more viruses" argument, there are some other markets where Microsoft is not the dominant one, but is still the most exploited.
     
  11. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

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    #11
    Regardless, the Mac virus situation creates a false sense of security.
     
  12. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #12
    Agreed. False senses of security can, as we all know, be dangerous.

    OS X is inherently more secure simply because it isn't afflicted by VB (rhymes with "VD"... interesting ;)), as mentioned above.

    However, it isn't perfect. It'll take more work to infect a Mac, but that means that such an eventual successful virus will likely be created by a more sophisticated attacker and, likely, will be more dangerous than the standard Windows attack.

    I actually worry that all the "virus-free" hype for Macs will encourage Mac viruses.
     
  13. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

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    #13
    As do I. But hopefully Apple can stay on top of it's security holes, I was glad to be able to abandon my old Anti-Virus software for OS 9. In 9, Virus software was inherintly in conflict with *everything*, I hated it. It is nice not to feel such pressure as to require me to purchase an anti-virus suite... but I'm starting to get nervous! ;) :)
     
  14. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #14
    I guess we have a different definition of everything. I estimate the inventory of MacOS 9 software on my computer as worth more than $10,000. Antivirus software never caused a single problem for me.
     
  15. 7on macrumors 601

    7on

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    #15
    Antivirus conflicts with some thing, and sometimes not. Programs will usually say on the box that it won't work properly with antivirus running. But yeah, as someone else stated OS9 has more viruses than OSX and I'm sure OS9 had a way less installed user base than OSX.

    And I'll never use anti-virus software. If I can manage to run XP w/o getting a virus I'm sure if OSX gets viruses I can run it w/o antivirus. I'm just awesome and I can't help it.
     
  16. slughead macrumors 68030

    slughead

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    #16
    The answer is NO.

    Example: Apache

    Over 2/3 of the world's internet servers use Apache web server (with CGI). There are 1/10 as many exploits found in Apache as [the much younger] M$ IIS.

    Thanks for playing!
     
  17. sorryiwasdreami macrumors 6502a

    sorryiwasdreami

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    #17
    I have a friend who is a [very talented] Microsoft .net programmer, and I asked him this same question; "Why are there so many viruses for windows?"

    He explained that ever since Microsoft’s release of windows XP, which they claimed couldn’t be breached, hackers ran rampant. The challenge of breaking into and finding security loopholes in a supposedly secure OS architecture was indeed a very tempting notion.

    With Microsoft’s claim, as well as the then-newly implemented windows activation key, (which many multi-computer windows users loathe) it was never a better time to start hacking (or hack more).

    My friend went on to say that a disturbingly high number of people are disgusted with Microsoft for countless reasons, many of them windows users themselves. He also said that lots of hackers, crackers, and coders use Linux.

    I think the virus phenomenon goes much deeper than Mac to windows per-user ratios. If people were truly fed up with Apple and Steve Jobs the way they are about Microsoft and Bill Gates, we’d surely see at least some exploits. Plus, to devise viruses on the Mac, don’t you have to use a Mac?

    Maybe; maybe not. But if so, that would allow one more Mac switcher to be enlightened to the beauties of the Mac world. I doubt one could do such a terrible thing as unleash a virus on the Mac family, when he too would be a part of it. Mac users and Apple fanatics alike mostly all share a certain kin and goal to pledge loyalty.

    I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. In the future, especially with the hype of Macs being invulnerable to viruses (the exact groupthink that ignited the windows XP viral and spy ware surge) we could see ourselves infected.

    Let’s just hope Apple continues to take their ultra-sterile approach to coding and testing so we may not be plagued with such annoyances. I believe they will; after all, the OS one of the main reasons they’ve come this far.
     
  18. slughead macrumors 68030

    slughead

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    #18
    What makes Apple most immune to viruses is that you can't e-mail or worm them.

    You can e-mail me anything, and it's doubtful anything will happen. On windows, this is not necessarily true.

    Also, even if you DID get in, you can only do what my user has permission to do. If I ran my mail client in a sandbox, you'd be SOL.

    What if you tried to just 'hack' into my computer over the internet. With windows, by default tons of services are on, allowing any script kiddie with a couple of minutes on his hands to get in and 0wn your shizzor.

    With Apple, NOTHING is on, aside from things that interface with the LAN (like that LDAP "exploit" thing, and rendezvous). So now, a hacker has to be on your LAN and has to know a crap load in order to hack your box. If you care that much, you can turn LDAP off.

    Say the world was running macs instead of windows (ignore the obvious problems with that). E-mail viruses would be much harder to distribute (especially when Apple drops carbon support ugh), 'hacking' into computers would be extremely rare, and damage from viruses that DID manage to idiot-employ could do far less damage. Not to mention that the base of Apple's OS is open source and based on a 20 year old OS. With time comes experience.
     

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