Are Macs immune to spyware?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by MacBook-Gal, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. MacBook-Gal macrumors regular

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    #1
    Do you think that Macs are immune to spyware?

    I have seen a couple of web sites that say Macs can get spyware and will eventually start running very slowly if it is not removed. I have also had people tell me that Macs cannot get any kind of spyware at all. Now I am a little confused about what to believe.:confused: How many of you guys use anti-spyware applications?
     
  2. lostfan916 macrumors 6502a

    lostfan916

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    #2
    From what I've heard, if you use your Mac normally and aren't doing any fishy stuff you should be absolutely fine. But if not I *think* you can get some stuff on there that you don't want. I don't have spyware because I don't think you really need it at all.
     
  3. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #3
    there isn't very many, if any, right now, but its not impossible, and Im sure there will be some coming out with increasing OSX market share.
     
  4. MacBook-Gal thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    I don't visit any fishy websites, but I do surf the web a lot....mainly doing forums, ebay, and school stuff. I know that just about all of those sites install cookies onto my computer if I let them. I am wondering how a Mac user can know that they're not installing spyware too, if they don't have any anti-spyware software to detect it? I have had experiences with using anti-virus/spyware software on a PC (not fun!:eek:) and definitely don't want to put any of that stuff onto my Mac unless it is absolutely necessary, though.
     
  5. superleccy macrumors 6502a

    superleccy

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    #5
    In theory, Macs can get "spyware". But in practice, there isn't any, and the only defence you need is common sense. For example:
    • Don't set your to browser automatically open downloaded items.
    • Keep up to date with all the software updates and security updates.
    • Keep an eye on the MacRumors front page. If there's a security issue that's a real threat, you can bet you'll see it there first.
    • Don't download from "dodgy" sites.
    • Don't open dodgy email attachments.

    I've heard of Macs "slowing down", although nowhere near as often as PCs, and never due to "spyware".

    SL
     
  6. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #6
    There currently is no known spyware for Macs, it would be possible for someone to write some, but no one has yet.
     
  7. MacBook-Gal thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Just out of curiosity, what do they slow down from if it is not spyware? Too many accumulated files? I would like to know what causes it so that I can avoid it!
     
  8. Eluzion macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Mac's aren't immune to spyware, there just isn't really any out there. Regardless, using common sense should keep you out of trouble. I've used Windows for years without any antivirus or antispyware protection without any issues. Example, if you're trying to watch some video and it asks you to install a codec to view it, that should raise some red flags.
     
  9. superleccy macrumors 6502a

    superleccy

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    #9
    Examples:
    • Not enough RAM (solution = get more RAM)
    • Not enough free space on hard drive (solution = free up space or upgrade hard drive)
    • Badly written software (solution = use other software, update to latest version or nag developers to fix memory leak or whatever)
    • Hardware problems (solution = get your Mac fixed, preferably before the warranty runs out)
     
  10. hajime macrumors 68040

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    #10
    Just in case, I installed Intego's NetBarrier and VirusBarrier. At one point, the software detected somebody was trying to do doggy thing about my computer's IP address. Don't remember the details.
     
  11. Eluzion macrumors 6502

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    #11
    The only way a computer really "slows down" is due to 1) too many services running in the background and not a sufficient amount of RAM or 2) a fragmented hard drive. I'm guessing most people using Macs that experience slow downs is caused by the first, too many services/stuff running in the background. Mac people are crazy about their little widgets and menulets, both of which use memory. As for fragmented hard drives, OS X automatically "defrags" your hard drive on smaller files. Large files, such as movies won't get automatically moved around but there are programs out there that allow you to fully defrag your hard drive.

    Bad sectors or a bad hard drive in general will also cause slow downs but that's a universal problem (Mac or PC).
     
  12. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #12
    I'm guessing you're still running Windows. The thing that can slow a Mac is not having enough free hard drive space. It needs 10% of its hard drive capacity available as free space for its virtual memory system to work properly. The things that you listed have virtually no impact at all. Mac applications, utilities, services, and various and sundry other tasks reside happily with other software citizens with no noticeable reduction in performance. In fact, there is no reason to shutdown any application in the day-to-day course of your work.

    The reduction in performance due to fragmentation is an artifact of the poor designs Microsoft file systems, not the Mac. You are correct that MacOS X automatically defragments your hard drive. However, I have used Macs since 1989 when they ran System 6.0.3. I have benchmarked my computers before an after defragging the hard drives. On my Macs, the differences were barely measurable. On Windows, the differences were dramatic.
     
  13. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #13
    is that 10% theory documented somewhere?

    it means 12G for a 120G HDD! not a small number.
     
  14. one1 macrumors 65816

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    #14
    If you don't have 12g free on a 120g HD that's the least of your worries. You're about to be spending money on a bigger HD. The problem is self solving really.......
     
  15. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #15
    I don't believe that statement. I have 60G HDD, and I never thought I need to kept 6G of it free.

    In fact, I don't believe most users with 120HDD would automatically think about buy a bigger HDD when they have 10G left.
     
  16. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #16
    No. It wouldn't be a percentage based thing anyway. I would say try to leave a few Gb. I've never really seen any problems until you get under 2 Gb.
     
  17. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #17
    The rule of thumb minimum drive space is 5 x the amount of physical RAM, so 10 Gb on a machine with 2 Gb RAM. However, the real problem with a near-full hard drive is that you are operating on the innermost tracks of the drive, which are only half the performance of the outer tracks. That's the best reason to buy a bigger drive (or to clean off your existing drive).

    Too many services/processes running (especially if you have a gazillion Dashboard widgets) definitely can impact speed, because if you don't have enough physical RAM for them, they will force the machine into Paging memory to the swap files on the hard drive all the time, which is a real slow down.

    About spyware: OSX is much harder to surreptitiously install spyware into, because it requires Admin password permission to install software, and it does not have Active X and other 'backdoor' interapplication 'features' that Microsoft has.

    BUT -- if the spyware writer can get you to install their program, either as a shareware 'trojan' with embedded spy features, or some other way that tricks you to grant permission for it to be installed, then all bets are off -- the Mac is no more secure than any other machine.

    Just look at all the commercial programs, from Adobe Acrobat to Apple software update that reach out to the mothership in the background and then come back to tell you you need to download and update, or register, or whatever. That is the same thing a spyware program will do covertly.
     
  18. iCeFuSiOn macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    No computer is immune to malware -- if someone is tempted enough and they have physical access to the machine then yes, in theory, it could be compromised.

    Now, let's think of spyware in the sense of a piece of software that is automatically installed without your consent when you are browsing the internet. On a Mac, this isn't very likely to happen because first and foremost, there really are no spyware applications written for the Mac. Secondly, the application would need full super-user/root privileges to the computer to install itself system-wide, so it would only affect your user account.
     
  19. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #19
    well, again, can you refer me to some sources for that 5X rule of thumb?

    so far, quite a few different theories.... lol
     
  20. Eluzion macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I forgot to mention that - not having enough free space will cause your computer to run slower. You're telling me if you have a Macbook with a bunch of widgets and applications running (physical memory all used), it won't run slow? Let alone Safari with it's awesome 500mb+ memory leaks, it's not hard to have a GB of used physical memory. We all know physical memory is far slower than virtual memory.
     
  21. MacBook-Gal thread starter macrumors regular

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    #21
    This is the first time I've heard about the 5x rule of thumb. It does make sense that a computer would run faster if it has some empty hard drive space than what it would run with a full hard drive.....Maybe not for the low-memory apps so much as those that use a lot of ram such as digital art and video editing. (Since I am into graphic design and art, I usually need a loooot of ram for my projects.) I try to store photos and things onto an external hard drive so that they don't take up too much extra space.

    Do I understand correctly that the "spyware" cannot get into my computer unless it has the Admin password? I always thought that spyware was something that lurks around in its mysterious cyberspace home and slinks into people's computers without thir consent or knowledge. Lol....my computer doesn't even have a password yet! I have been thinking that maybe I ought to give it one someday.;)
     
  22. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    #22
    i remember that barefeats.com tested hd's and said that they slow down a lot when they are more than 80% full. i keep usually at least 20 GB free if possible. of course that is hard to achieve on a notebook with limited HD space.
     
  23. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #23
    Your difficulty is that you are still thinking like a Windows 95 or System 7 user. You believe that you can outrun MacOS X's desire for RAM by adding more memory sticks. You can't and you don't have to. MacOS X is Unix-like or UNIX and, as such, is a pre-emptive multi-tasking multi-user virtual memory operating system. It automatically allocates as much physical memory as it has among its running tasks and uses virtual memory as needed. Free memory is wasted memory. Contrast this to cooperative virtual memory operating systems like System 6 running MultiFinder through MacOS 9 where memory was allocated by the user and free memory was a Godsend.

    Memory leaks are a problem but a different issue. If you have to use a memory-leaking app, then shut it down periodically. However, you don't have to shut-down the non-offending apps.
     
  24. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #24
    the only situation I know that is remotely close to this theory is that when install Linux, it will ask you to set up a swap partition, which is said to be better when its size match the size of physical memory or double of that.

    The problem is, swap space isn't mandated, and said to be only necessary when you have <256MB physical memory.
     

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