Can MBP get virus from flashdrive?

AceC

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 10, 2013
91
1
Hypothetically, say I had a flash drive that could have a virus on it.

If I stick it in my Mac, could it give the virus to it? And would I know about it if it did?

Thanks.
 

Intell

macrumors P6
Jan 24, 2010
18,872
368
Inside
Mac viruses do not exist. If you did get some other form of malware, Apple would release a security update to remove it and it would hit the news because of the rarity of such an occurrence.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Thanks, but if I were to ever have a Mac virus, how would I even know it? Would it obviously effect my computer, or what could it even do?
No one knows, because no OS X virus has ever existed in the wild. Until one is created, no one knows what it would do.

Macs are not immune to malware, but no true viruses exist in the wild that can run on Mac OS X, and there never have been any since it was released over 12 years ago. The only malware in the wild that can affect Mac OS X is a handful of trojans, which can be easily avoided by practicing safe computing (see below). 3rd party antivirus apps are not necessary to keep a Mac malware-free, as long as a user practices safe computing, as described in the following link.
Read the What security steps should I take? section of the Mac Virus/Malware FAQ for tips on practicing safe computing.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,727
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Mac viruses do not exist. If you did get some other form of malware, Apple would release a security update to remove it and it would hit the news because of the rarity of such an occurrence.
Mac viruses do exist (remember the Flashback Trojan?), but it still requires admin authentication from the user for the virus to be installed in the form of a seemingly harmless app.

You'll only allow it to be installed if you're a newbie to OS X and haven't looked up on how to identify whether a seemingly harmless app is a Trojan or not.
 

Wuiffi

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2011
685
78
a trojan is NOT a virus.
If you hand over your Credit Card and all important infos you can't claim you got robbed either ...

there is malware (trojans etc) in general, but no viruses
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Mac viruses do exist (remember the Flashback Trojan?), but it still requires admin authentication from the user for the virus to be installed in the form of a seemingly harmless app.
No, OS X viruses do not exist in the wild, and never have. Flashback is a Trojan, easily avoided by practicing safe computing. They are not the same thing, even if someone doesn't know the difference.
 

themumu

macrumors 6502a
Feb 13, 2011
717
558
Sunnyvale
While in general malware for Mac OS is very rare, you do want to exercise caution when using peripherals that are not your own. There is no auto-run functionality and thus no ability to run a malicious piece of software without your consent, but people can still be tricked into running malware under false pretences.

For example, if a friend gives you a USB stick with some photos or other documents on it, you plug it in and can see the files and that they are indeed regular documents, copy them over and open them using your existing apps - that's fairly safe.

If, on the other hand, I go to a trade show and a vendor is giving away USB sticks with some demo software or what not that I would need to run on my computer instead of just open with a common app - I might not want to use that on my personal or even work computer - not on a device that contains valuable data or connected to a private network with valuable data on it. Even if the vendor is legitimate, those sticks are often handled very loosely and an unrelated malicious individual would be able to add malicious content to a bunch of sticks rather easily.

Same applies to using phone chargers in public places, by the way. The charging port on the iPhone/iPad can be used to gain almost complete control over the device, especially if you unlock the device while charging. I would avoid using these, not so much because I think the coffee shops or other venues providing them are up to no good, but because they may not be securing them against individuals who could add malicious devices to the charging stations.

It is similar to how ATMs can be susceptible to skimming devices. After many costly skimming attacks against ATMs, the banks have finally updated their machines to make such attacks much less likely (at least here, in Canada), but I doubt many charging stations are protected in any way nor monitored against unauthorized activity.
 

Intell

macrumors P6
Jan 24, 2010
18,872
368
Inside
You're linking to an over-sensationalized document about how Apple dropped claims for virus immunity. Doesn't change the mostly known fact that Mac viruses do not exist.

Mac viruses do exist (remember the Flashback Trojan?), but it still requires admin authentication from the user for the virus to be installed in the form of a seemingly harmless app.

You'll only allow it to be installed if you're a newbie to OS X and haven't looked up on how to identify whether a seemingly harmless app is a Trojan or not.
That was a trojan, not a virus. Completely different form of malware.
 

nebo1ss

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,817
1,251
You do realize the difference between a virus and a trojan?
The general Public does not care about the difference. Can a Trojan do damage to your computer? - Yes. Can it provide a backdoor to your private data? - Yes. Is it bad for you? - Yes.

The fact that unlike a Virus it does not replicate itself is of no interest to the average Mac user with a single machine.
 

Hexaea

macrumors member
Nov 29, 2008
68
0
Chicago
The general Public does not care about the difference. Can a Trojan do damage to your computer? - Yes. Can it provide a backdoor to your private data? - Yes. Is it bad for you? - Yes.

The fact that unlike a Virus it does not replicate itself is of no interest to the average Mac user with a single machine.

This. All the terms are just semantics outside of the security world.

I'm a computer tech, and even I use the terms interchangeably.
 

Dovahkiing

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2013
222
107
a trojan is NOT a virus.
If you hand over your Credit Card and all important infos you can't claim you got robbed either ...

there is malware (trojans etc) in general, but no viruses
That was a trojan, not a virus. Completely different form of malware.
You guys are being pedantic. Nobody really gets "viruses" on PC's anymore either, It's mostly spyware/malware out there nowadays and that's what people are concerned about when they ask if their computer can get a virus.

Telling people "Macs don't get viruses" is misleading and disingenuous. Most people use the word virus to refer to malware in general.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
The general Public does not care about the difference. Can a Trojan do damage to your computer? - Yes. Can it provide a backdoor to your private data? - Yes. Is it bad for you? - Yes.

The fact that unlike a Virus it does not replicate itself is of no interest to the average Mac user with a single machine.
Whether the difference is of interest to a user is irrelevant. The difference is important, as it determines the defense needed. Protection against a virus pretty much requires antivirus software, as it can infect even if a user is practicing safe computing. A Trojan, on the other hand, can be completely avoided with safe computing, with no need for antivirus software. There are plenty of people who aren't interested in which foods are good or bad for them, but that doesn't change the facts.
You guys are being pedantic. Nobody really gets "viruses" on PC's anymore either, It's mostly spyware/malware out there nowadays and that's what people are concerned about when they ask if their computer can get a virus.

Telling people "Macs don't get viruses" is misleading and disingenuous. Most people use the word virus to refer to malware in general.
No, it's not misleading to say Macs don't get viruses, if, like my earlier post (#8), you include the fact that there are other forms of malware that can affect OS X.

No, there are no OS X viruses in the wild, so Mac users have no need to defend against them. Yes, there are OS X Trojans in the wild, so Mac users should practice safe computing to avoid those. There is absolutely nothing misleading about that.
 

Dovahkiing

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2013
222
107
Whether the difference is of interest to a user is irrelevant. The difference is important, as it determines the defense needed. Protection against a virus pretty much requires antivirus software, as it can infect even if a user is practicing safe computing. A Trojan, on the other hand, can be completely avoided with safe computing, with no need for antivirus software. There are plenty of people who aren't interested in which foods are good or bad for them, but that doesn't change the facts.

No, it's not misleading to say Macs don't get viruses, if, like my earlier post (#8), you include the fact that there are other forms of malware that can affect OS X.

No, there are no OS X viruses in the wild, so Mac users have no need to defend against them. Yes, there are OS X Trojans in the wild, so Mac users should practice safe computing to avoid those. There is absolutely nothing misleading about that.
You're still being a pedant.

Again, (I assume) the OP isn't interested in the technical details of what distinguishes a virus from a trojan. Most people asking a question like this aren't. He want's a bottom line: Is my machine vulnerable to nefarious code?

Answering, "Macs don't get Viruses" is technically true (for now) but obfuscates the point that, yes, OSX has security vulnerabilities and all users should be just as cautious as if they were still using Windows.

I take special issue on this point because of all the myth surrounding this topic which I'm sure you're aware of. Apple themselves touted for years that OSX was inherently a more secure OS and now a good fraction of mac users take that at face value even though it is patently false. Just because OSX isn't targeted as frequently doesn't mean it is inherently more secure, and a user base with a false sense of security is not a good thing.

Answering questions like the OP's with "no macs don't get virus" responses only perpetuates this myth.