How come there are no Mac viruses?

WillMak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 29, 2005
957
0
How come noone makes any Mac Specific viruses? I've always wondered why Mac haters or windows people don't make any viruses to target Macs specifically. Wouldn't Gates benefit extremely if he hired a team of people to just unleash Mac viruses everyday?
 

redAPPLE

macrumors 68030
May 7, 2002
2,614
2
2 Much Infinite Loops
i believe, OS X is by default not as open as windows. to install a program or change preferences, an administrator name and password is necessary. this is not so in the windows world.

but what i am trying to say is, there is really no answer to your question. some believe this, some believe that.

the fact is, we (the mac world) are still virus-free. enjoy your mac. enjoy the experience. live smart, work smart with your mac. and everything will be fine.
 

iEdd

macrumors 68000
Aug 8, 2005
1,956
4
WillMak said:
Wouldn't Gates benefit extremely if he hired a team of people to just unleash Mac viruses everyday?
I'd hope gates isn't that much of an bastard.
 

Deepdale

macrumors 68000
May 4, 2005
1,965
0
New York
WillMak said:
I've always wondered why Mac haters or windows people don't make any viruses to target Macs specifically. Wouldn't Gates benefit extremely if he hired a team of people to just unleash Mac viruses everyday?
Even moreso than Bill Gates, I could see Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the likely force behind something as insidious as that. Based upon selected photgraphs of him at times when he has gone somewhat over the edge, he looks as if he might have mad cow disease.
 

steelfist

macrumors 6502a
Aug 10, 2005
577
0

MrSugar

macrumors 6502a
Jul 28, 2003
614
0
One of the main reasons, if not the biggest, is that Mac only has 4% of the Market Share. If this number was as high as Windows, there is a reasonable chance we would see a lot more viruses for the mac.
 

Chaszmyr

macrumors 601
Aug 9, 2002
4,265
76
MrSugar said:
One of the main reasons, if not the biggest, is that Mac only has 4% of the Market Share. If this number was as high as Windows, there is a reasonable chance we would see a lot more viruses for the mac.
Quite possibly true... Linux has some viruses though, and it doesn't have the kind of marketshare that Windows does.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,493
15
London
MrSugar said:
One of the main reasons, if not the biggest, is that Mac only has 4% of the Market Share. If this number was as high as Windows, there is a reasonable chance we would see a lot more viruses for the mac.
This arguement does not really hold water. Why are there not 4% of the number of Windows viruses? Part of it may be that corporates mostly use Windows desktops and this may represent a better target, but corporates also use a lot of Solaris boxes and you don't see viruses for that either.

A well designed Unix platform (like OSX) is much more difficult to target via a remote exploit. Services run as non-root users which cannot install code into the main OS. Windows is the opposite. Many services run as "root" and an exploit allows total control.
 

fayans

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2005
649
0
MacRumors: Forums
Is it true that virus was created the software developer itself so that its anti-virus software could be sold? And since the Mac community is small relative to Windows, it may not be economically feasible to create one.
 

MrSugar

macrumors 6502a
Jul 28, 2003
614
0
I want to clarify my post.

I am not saying that if Mac had over 90% market share that it would have as many viruses as Windows does now. I am simply saying there is a high chance there would be viruses for Mac if it reached that level.

I hope someday we get to find out, I am a diehard Mac lover and I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this. It's just my opinion that you are not nearly as targeted with only 4% of the market share as you would be with 90%.
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
MrSugar said:
I want to clarify my post.

I am not saying that if Mac had over 90% market share that it would have as many viruses as Windows does now. I am simply saying there is a high chance there would be viruses for Mac if it reached that level.

I hope someday we get to find out, I am a diehard Mac lover and I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this. It's just my opinion that you are not nearly as targeted with only 4% of the market share as you would be with 90%.
This is called "security through obscurity." No matter how you slice it or dice it, it is an assertion that is not supported by the evidence. This argument was proffered by Microsoft in 1999, a time when Windows was suffering from a deluge of new viruses. The mass media and Microsoft apologists simply accepted the assertion as fact instead of demanding proof.
 

gekko513

macrumors 603
Oct 16, 2003
6,302
1
MrSugar said:
One of the main reasons, if not the biggest, is that Mac only has 4% of the Market Share. If this number was as high as Windows, there is a reasonable chance we would see a lot more viruses for the mac.
If it was easy to write there would still have been a few concept viruses out there, just for the bragging rights, I think.

But I agree that the zombie spam bot viruses aren't likely to target a platform with 3% market share.
 

iNoob

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2005
11
0
robbieduncan said:
This arguement does not really hold water. Why are there not 4% of the number of Windows viruses?
This does not hold much more water, too. Virus are somewhat different from your usual commercial application. No one is payed for widespread viruses, it all boils down to the will of making one. That's why 4% doesn't count for a similar virus share. There are many more developers than virus coders.

Part of it may be that corporates mostly use Windows desktops and this may represent a better target, but corporates also use a lot of Solaris boxes and you don't see viruses for that either.
In fact, as for free UNIX variants, there are proof-of-concept viruses as injectable code in the fs structures, loaders and the likes. But Solaris is just prone to worm as any other UNIX variants (see following)

A well designed Unix platform (like OSX) is much more difficult to target via a remote exploit. Services run as non-root users which cannot install code into the main OS. Windows is the opposite. Many services run as "root" and an exploit allows total control.
While the latter statement is true, you're not really talking about viruses, but about worms. Give worms' writers a single osx application with a remotly exploitable hole and you'll receive an osx worm (if they're willing to do that. note: willing is different from able). It will not be able to write system files or inject code in kernel land, but it will be able to manipulate files and resources accessible to the privileges the application is running with, including opening network sockets and pushing evil payloads to other osx remotely exploitable services: a worm is born.

But imagine a world where 90% use osx. Probably the difference between superuser and normal user would blur, as in latter windowses where almost no dumb user uses no account other than the Administrator one. There, a single malware could spread in the system using both low privileges and user acquaintance with supplying their pass to configure and the likes... as in the windows world.

As a Linux user who loves to say to other younger fellow Linux users:

viruses and worms tend to follow market share. It's not technically impossible. Believing this hype is like believing to G5 pb next tuesday :p
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,493
15
London
iNoob said:
This does not hold much more water, too. Virus are somewhat different from your usual commercial application. No one is payed for widespread viruses, it all boils down to the will of making one. That's why 4% doesn't count for a similar virus share. There are many more developers than virus coders.
That is all true. One of the most used reasons that virus writers give for writing these things to gain fame amongst the hacker community. If this was really the goal then writing a true OSX virus (something that takes advantage of a whole in the system and is self replicating, not the lame proof of concept trojans we've seen to this point) would appear to be very attractive. The amount of coverage that would be given to the first OSX virus would be huge and the amount of attention the writer would get would make it worth their time (in their eyes at least). The fact that this has not happened to date has to be heavily influenced by the more robust and secure nature of OSX.
 

iNoob

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2005
11
0
robbieduncan said:
That is all true. One of the most used reasons that virus writers give for writing these things to gain fame amongst the hacker community. If this was really the goal then writing a true OSX virus (something that takes advantage of a whole in the system and is self replicating, not the lame proof of concept trojans we've seen to this point) would appear to be very attractive. The amount of coverage that would be given to the first OSX virus would be huge and the amount of attention the writer would get would make it worth their time (in their eyes at least). The fact that this has not happened to date has to be heavily influenced by the more robust and secure nature of OSX.
Might be ;)
As a UNIX/Linux/BSD user since a decade I must obey to the general rule "underlying unix core == robust and secure" ;) but there are some other things that strike me as much as this:

- win32 hooks for fs and processes, today, are robust, as well as much more granular when it comes to permissions and inheritance of those, BUT they're clumsy to configure and administer and, sincerely, very few win admins do that

- after the initial days of unix/linux exploits, back before NT 4.0, the community which wants to gain fame among fellows, took lots of time to code the first famous remote exploits for win32, while the virus community had been flourishing since the DOS days (damn win back compatibility :p and FAT)

- today, the first public techniques for not-so-trivial exploiting techniques on osx have arrived in a shorter timeframe than it took to reach NT/2000 from the unix shores

- visit the homepages of the most re-known groups which have been in the scene since early 90's till today (the sort that inspire phrack and created mls like bugtraq) and you'll find NO mention of viruses. From a sociological point of view , there seem to be two different communities, and the most prolific in terms of exploiting and violating system security is not in the viral business...

So, perhaps, the virus community may simply be lurking for a while :eek:

This to say that while exploits usually concern coding and applications internals, viruses usually tend to aim at human vulnerabilities, too (executables attachments anyone ?). Saying the unix heart of osx will defend against humans being sometimes dumb, is stretching the line a bit, to me :p
 

zach

macrumors 65816
Feb 14, 2003
1,205
0
Medford
Besides the fact that a virus hasn't actually been written yet, even if one was, (and I'm being serious here), I think mac users are a lot more computer-savvy in general than windows users (due to the huge percentage of completely computer illiterate people with win boxes), and it would be a lot harder to disseminate a virus, especially one that requires user intervention to run (typing in a password, etc).
 

iNoob

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2005
11
0
zach said:
Besides the fact that a virus hasn't actually been written yet
right

, even if one was, (and I'm being serious here)
Though I wasn't saying the osx WILL have tons of viruses like windows has, I think the absence of viral code till now is NOT linked to the "unix core" and the "robustness and stability", since viruses have almost NOTHING in common with "weakness and instability". It all relates to to cross-links between processes, filesystems and permissions. ext2 and ext3 are considered robust and stable in the Linux world, but there exists lots of proof-of-concepts. technical and complex ones, not like the simple trojan for osx.

I just stated that to the hacker community which evolves in the field of system abuse, an application or kernel exploit is much more direct and fruitful than a virus. Besides, I think that in the Linux world this could change, too, with an increased userbase...

I think mac users are a lot more computer-savvy in general than windows users (due to the huge percentage of completely computer illiterate people with win boxes), and it would be a lot harder to disseminate a virus, especially one that requires user intervention to run (typing in a password, etc).
That's probably true. NOW.
We're saying that could change if osx leaped from 4% to, say, 40% userbase worldwide. Are you telling me that Apple hardware design will teach people to be savier before using the system ? :p
Didn't think so.
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
Besides the fact that a virus hasn't actually been written yet, even if one was, (and I'm being serious here), I think mac users are a lot more computer-savvy in general than windows users (due to the huge percentage of completely computer illiterate people with win boxes), and it would be a lot harder to disseminate a virus, especially one that requires user intervention to run (typing in a password, etc).
You're wrong, viruses, Trojans and worms for OSX have indeed been written. There was even a Word Macro virus in 2004. I think Most of my AV friends have about two dozen pieces of Mac malware in their zoos. The two or three Trojans that have gone wild have required a password, and it didn't seem to stop all those computer literate Mac users from installing them. ISTR the first OSX Trojan that went wild masquerading as a new version of iTunes and being passed from user to user fairly successfully.

Paul
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,360
701
You're wrong, viruses, Trojans and worms for OSX have indeed been written.
7 year old thread resurrection to post nonsense. The poster you quoted specifically said "virus" as opposed to "trojan" or "worm". There has never been a Mac OS X virus in the wild.
There was even a Word Macro virus in 2004.
That's not a virus. It's a trojan. You need to educate yourself on the differences.

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 10 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). Also, Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Lion have anti-malware protection built in, further reducing the need for 3rd party antivirus apps.
  1. Make sure your built-in Mac firewall is enabled in System Preferences > Security > Firewall

  2. Uncheck "Open "safe" files after downloading" in Safari > Preferences > General

  3. Disable Java in your browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox). This will protect you from malware that exploits Java in your browser, including the recent Flashback trojan. Leave Java disabled until you visit a trusted site that requires it, then re-enable only for the duration of your visit to that site. (This is not to be confused with JavaScript, which you should leave enabled.)

  4. Change your DNS servers to OpenDNS servers by reading this.

  5. Be careful to only install software from trusted, reputable sites. Never install pirated software. If you're not sure about an app, ask in this forum before installing.

  6. Never let someone else have access to install anything on your Mac.

  7. Don't open files that you receive from unknown or untrusted sources.

  8. For added security, make sure all network, email, financial and other important passwords are long and complex, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

  9. Always keep your Mac and application software updated. Use Software Update for your Mac software. For other software, it's safer to get updates from the developer's site or from the menu item "Check for updates", rather than installing from any notification window that pops up while you're surfing the web.
That's all you need to do to keep your Mac completely free of any Mac OS X malware that has ever been released into the wild. You don't need any 3rd party software to keep your Mac secure.
 
Nov 28, 2010
22,668
27
located
You're wrong, viruses, Trojans and worms for OSX have indeed been written. There was even a Word Macro virus in 2004. I think Most of my AV friends have about two dozen pieces of Mac malware in their zoos. The two or three Trojans that have gone wild have required a password, and it didn't seem to stop all those computer literate Mac users from installing them. ISTR the first OSX Trojan that went wild masquerading as a new version of iTunes and being passed from user to user fairly successfully.

Paul
Really? I didn't know. Your friends probably are computer literates to have such an amount of malware on their Macs.
 
Last edited by a moderator: