Ending the OS X virus discussion

Discussion in 'macOS' started by waldfee, Mar 5, 2008.

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  1. waldfee macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hey,

    I am using a Macbook and I am always asked by my friends, whether there are any viruses for macs, and I always have to justify why news topics like "the first virus for OS X discovered" are simply not true.
    Actually, there is a never ending discussion about this topic. Some say it is simply impossible because of the software architecture, others say there is no motivation to program a virus because of the small market share of apple (this is certainly not true as virus programmers always try to test their skills!) and others state that it is only possible if you access the OSX system personally and activate it on a specified computer.
    So please can someone answer my question as simple and convincing as possible who is REALLY an expert in this topic?
    Thank you very much for your help!
     
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    #2
    As Simple as it can be said

    I am an expert.
    There are no viruses on Macs.
    Sleep well.
     
  3. waldfee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    A brief explanation would be even more convincing! ;)
     
  4. Neil321 macrumors 68040

    Neil321

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    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    #4
    Here are some posts discussing this topic,as stated at present there are no known Viruses that
    will affect your Mac.In the unlikely event ( if you have bootcamp ) that a windows virus migrates across your mac wont understand it so therefore wont harm/affect it.There is a Trojan from a porn
    site but you have to give your password to download and install it


    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=420320&highlight=virus

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=403604&highlight=virus

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=411112&highlight=virus
     
  5. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #5
    there are a few viruses actually. But you'd have to be pretty stupid to fall for them.

    There are about 5 word macro viruses, and a couple of codec viruses - "please download this codec to watch russian teenagers" sort of thing.

    Basically you don't need to worry about viruses on a mac, but lets not be smug and complacent about this, as macs get more popular, more advanced viruses will come our way.

    I wouldn't recommend installing antivirus software yet though as they really slow your computer down; they scan everything and every file that moves through your system, all the time. They're a real drain on system resources.

    But don't think that macs will always be virus free...
     
  6. Neil321 macrumors 68040

    Neil321

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    #6
    Can you give documented proof of these viruses please
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    Location:
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    #7
    I haven't heard of any Word macro viruses that affect Macs. I'm with neil321, I'd like to see some more info about them.

    That codec thing is not a virus, it's a trojan. Exercise some common sense and you won't be affected.

    The excuse that the reason there are no viruses for Macs due to lower market share has never sat well with me. Any hacker who wants to prove how "l33t" he/she is would certainly want the infamy of being the first to create the first truly problematic virus for OS X.

    Do I think that Macs will always be virus-free? No. But the fact of the matter is, currently, there are none. Until there is anything more than proofs of concept, I won't bother with any anti-virus software.
     
  8. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #8
    There was a macro virus back in 2002, it wasn't very malicious and not much happened, but it put the wind up some people.

    Also remember that just because macs can't really be affected by windows viruses, doesn't mean they can't help spread the virus. You could have just as easily caught the "iloveyou" email virus (on your PC) by receiving the email from someone on a mac or a PC.

    The technologies that leopard is build on (UNIX and all that) help to a certain extent with trapping viruses and not letting them through the walls of the kernel.

    There are some antivirus software applications for those of you who are interested in installing them for OS X; ClamXav being quite a good one.

    Really in this day and age, with storage being so cheap, everyone can backup their files hundreds of times - so viruses are an annoyance rather than a disaster.
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #9
    i think that people are more aware of viruses these days, so if something comes up saying "download this codec" rarrarrrar i think they would just ignore it because there is always the slight possibility of getting a virus. (yes even on the mac).

    as for having a trojan come in via bootcamp, nuuh its not possible. but you could get into some strife if you have something like *MacDrive* (a program that lets windows see HFS+ formatted drives) then some serious damage could be done to both your pc n mac partition.

    always be aware!:rolleyes:
     
  10. cohibadad macrumors 6502a

    cohibadad

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    Jul 21, 2007
    #10
    I've never seen a Mac virus. I used to run AV when .mac offered it free. It was a waste and caused some problems so I stopped it. I even started a stress test a few months ago to see if any malicious activities could be detected on my Power Mac running Leopard Server. I put it in the DMZ with no firewall. That was soon after Leopard release and it has been perfect since running 24/7.
     
  11. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #11
    I say let the Windows guys run the anti-virus software. Why waste our time and system resources on something that doesn't affect us?

    Then run an anti-virus app in Bootcamp since that's what's affected. I still see no need to run anti-virus software in Mac OS.
     
  12. callmemike20 macrumors 6502a

    callmemike20

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    USA
    #12
    I never heard of a virus for a mac. I believe, with the stuff out there, that you have to type in your password to install it anyway just like when you install an application. So you would be the one installing it.
     
  13. iowamensan macrumors 6502

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    Feb 19, 2006
    #13
    This is a frustrating topic.... I too want to be able to say that there are no viruses for OSX, because there truly aren't any viruses that attack the operating system. But then, I have to explain macro viruses. W97M.Panther has been a pain in my ass for too long. I work at a K-12 school district, and have about 400 Macs under my supervision. I know that macro viruses do not hurt anything on the Mac, but it does self-replicate and attach itself to other Word documents so by definition is a virus. The problem happens when someone in my district emails a word document to someone else, who happens to be using Windows and a virus detector. Then, we get a call or something from that person that says they couldn't receive the attachment because it had a virus. It makes our school look bad and it makes me look like a liar. But, if I could convince our school to ditch MS Office for iWork or NeoOffice, we wouldn't have this problem. I run Norton on the servers to keep home directories clean and on the administrator's computers, since they do more emailing to other districts than teachers to try to keep a handle on things. Here is a screen shot showing that yes, you can have an infected (self-replicating even) file on your Mac that you didn't need to give your password to install.
    The explanation I have been using for this is that Macs themselves are in fact immune to the symptoms of viruses and won't get 'sick', but that doesn't mean that they can't act as a carrier and pass viruses on.
     

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  14. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #14
    It sounds like whomever was on the receiving end of the original document is at fault and needs better anti-virus software (or stop using Windows).
     
  15. iowamensan macrumors 6502

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    Feb 19, 2006
    #15
    Well, I can't disagree with the fact that they should stop using Windows, and maybe they could have an anti-virus program that fixes the attachment rather than refusing it, but I'm not sure how I could say that they were at fault for our district sending them a virus.
    But every time I hear about an email from our district getting rejected because it was infected, I feel that it makes our school look "dirty", like a kid that gets sent home with lice.
    I wish there was a free, low-impact program that only fixed macro viruses.
    (by low-impact, I was implying that it isn't a resource hog)
     
  16. Willis macrumors 68020

    Willis

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    #16
    I agree fully with this statement.

    Also, addtional proof that attacks will increase...

    http://www.macworld.co.uk/macsoftware/news/index.cfm?newsid=20095
     
  17. kkat69 macrumors 68020

    kkat69

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    Location:
    Atlanta, Ga
    #17
    I think what people need to understand and read up and educate themselves on is the difference between:

    Virus
    Trojan
    Worm
    etc.

    Because they are not the same. They are all valid threats yes, but they act differently.

    The link posted is for a Trojan.

    The famous Word Macro Virus is a valid threat but not (from the reading I've done) to your OS. Just to the Microsoft products and quite frankly, let it have at em LOL. You can spread it by resending the doc, but it's pretty much encapsulated inside the confines of Office products.
     
  18. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #18
  19. kkat69 macrumors 68020

    kkat69

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    #19
    Although I would normally agree, not all users (unaware grandma/grandpa) will know that this could be an attack. I would rather say "Use caution when something prompts you for the admin password" than automatically assume everyone falls under a level of common sense that most of the technically inclined people do.

    I certainly wouldn't blame my Father and accuse him of not having the common sense if he allowed this trojan to infect his system since he just didn't know any better. That's what these things prey on, those people that assume that what just happened is normal.

    Best advice I give my users is, Read up, educate yourself. Sometimes something that seems so benign can be very harmful as most windows users know. That's the best antivirus program, education.
     
  20. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    #20
    This is literally what I tell people "They just don't [get viruses]". What else do people need to know? People don't understand why PC's get viruses, so why would they understand why Macs don't?
     
  21. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #21
    yes neither do i. my dad gets angry at me when he says that i need anti-virus software and i dont have any. i really couldnt care less, because i can trust myself in what websites i go to and click, i dont download any pr0n and i have a very secure set of passwords on my laptop/network... so yea
     
  22. kkat69 macrumors 68020

    kkat69

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    #22
    This is like saying "I'll never get into a car accident because I trust my driving"

    My wife's mother said the same thing. She's very proper person. She watches where she goes,

    (mind you this is on a windows pc not a mac but it shows how the above statement can lead to false sense of security)

    She doesn't dl pr0n (lol at least as far as we know haha), she does (I've seen a few) have pretty good passwords and she got infected.

    How? Someone hacked a legitimate site and used a gif/tiff/jpg exploit to allow the upload of a virus when a user visited the site. Others WITH virus checking software caught the issue quick but not before about a reported 150 people were already infected.

    Similar thing happened to MMORPG.com. Except with MMORPG.com it was a keylogger that was downloaded to users and many users video game accounts were hacked.

    I'm not saying this will or could happen on a Mac, but just saying "I trust myself" is a false sense of security to have. It's not so much ME I trust, I trust myself fine, it's EVERYONE else I have an issue with. I trust myself, but I may not trust amazon.com (for lack of a better example).

    As stated earlier, even the most benign sites could have been hacked and setup to infect visitors.
     
  23. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

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    #23
    I'm not aware of any viruses (virii?) for OSX. One simple protection against the obvious attack vector is to login as a user who doesn't have write-access to the Applications folder; and only run applications from there. Hence, other applications cannot be infected.

    Trojans are the biggest concern. I have little time for people who use the "exercise caution, and you'll be ok" line - that only holds today because most (known) trojans have been far too obvious and easily identifiable; such as 2MB downloads which claim to be a demo of the next version of Office.

    If anyone took the time & effort to craft a more genuine & sutble Trojan, it could and would fool anyone.

    The simple truth is, if you've ever downloaded and installed any piece of software from any site or vendor, you may have installed a trojan. There is no "magic barrier" there protecting you. It could be from a disgruntled employee within Apple - unlikely but certainly possible.
     
  24. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #24
    wow thats so true. i never thought of it that way, ok sure i trust myself but yea maybe not everyone else as much no that you said that (in terms of the website).

    i wonder if there is/could be produced a virus software scanner that could pre-scan web sites that you go to (just the important parts e.g. where you put your password in) for any scripts or programs... i donno.

    p.s. eewwww if your mum looked at pr0n.... eewwww :rolleyes:
     
  25. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

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    #25
    Greater explanation would be useful.

    As in:

    "I just don't get shot."

    Now, does that mean

    a) I'm immune to bullets.
    b) I am Neo, and to me there are no bullets.
    c) No one has ever tried to shoot me, if they had I'd be deader than a parrot in a Monty Python sketch.
    d) All of the above.

    It's very useful to know if we are safe, or just lucky! ;)
     
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