Mac Worms, Viruses, Trojans, and Malware

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Christine1234, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. Christine1234 macrumors regular

    Christine1234

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    #1
    OK, I’m not a troll, just a confused PC user. And you’ve probably been asked all this stuff before. I’m impatiently waiting for my first Mac to be delivered next week, and hearing all sorts of conflicting information. I just did a Google news search for Apple Macintosh, and saw news about a Mac Trojan.

    I’ve been reading some of the threads here and info on other sites, and some people are saying that Macs won’t get any of that stuff as long as you use common sense (which isn’t common, I don’t know why they call it that), and using technical jargon that’s beyond me. When I went to high school, computers were huge things that used punch cards and people laughed at the thought that someone would actually want one in their house. I don’t use iphones or wifi and am not sure what all that stuff is about. So if you could apply the KISS principal here, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Anyway, how many Mac users do use an anti-virus? Is Mac malware starting to show up? How safe is it, really, without all the Mac vs. PC mud slinging? Should I use an anti-virus on the Mac, and if so, what’s a good one? I’ve already completely messed up one computer trying to remove a virus myself after getting directions on how to remove it off the internet, and in the past six weeks have received two infected e-mails supposedly from friends, but they did not send them.

    I use the computer to check e-mails, chat on chat boards, check the news and weather, and word processing. No questionable web sites. Thanks. :D
     
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

    Joined:
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    On the fence
    #2
    With your described use, and in general, I wouldn't worry about it. I don't know of any viruses, and the amount of other malignant items that can run on a Mac are minimal and all but impossible to come across on legit websites. I have been using my Mac for close to two years now, and have yet to come across an issue without antivirus software. I know many other users have had similar experiences. Another thing about that type of software is that most of it just sucks. It's poorly made and can hog your computer's resources and can make it pretty slow.
     
  3. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    Aug 24, 2009
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    #3
    Where is GGJStudios with his very informative link on the matter? :p
     
  4. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    #4
    Thank you, that's what I wanted to know. :) The PC really slows down while the anti-virus updates and runs.

    I'll probably be back with more questions when the Mac gets here. It's so hard to wait!
     
  5. ECUpirate44 macrumors 603

    ECUpirate44

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  6. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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  7. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
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    Canada, eh?
    #7
    In the real world it's simply not an issue. You won't need antivirus software. And unless you're regularly downloading porn and pirated Mac software, the chances of you stumbling on a Mac trojan are exceedingly slim.

    Posts like yours often ignite semantic arguments though. The rest of your thread will go down like this:

    Person 1: "Macs have no viruses. Period."
    Person 2: "That's not true! There are viruses!"
    Person 1: "Prove it. Show me a link."
    Person 2: "Here, this link."
    Person 1: "That's a trojan, not a virus."
    Person 2: "Well, what about this link?"
    Person 1: "That's malware, but that's not a virus."
    Person 2: "How about this link?"
    Person 1: "That link is 15 years old! That affected OS 9, not OS X."

    The bottom line is this: Macs are not magically protected. Vulnerabilities exist. Trojans exist. Proof-of-concept exploits exist. The real question is whether you will ever actually run into one -- and execute it, and provide it with your admin password. Odds are, you won't.

    It's also not true to say "Macs can't get viruses". They are not invulnerable. They can, and perhaps, one day, will. But the fact is that as of this moment, there are no viruses for OS X.
     
  8. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    #8
    Excellent. My intent is not to start another mud slinging contest on Mac vs. PC or definitions of words, just to find out before the Mac gets here. So far, so good, and it's great to hear that viruses are highly unlikely.
     
  9. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #9
    As previous posters said, Mac malware really isn't all that prevalent. Even if you come across an instance of it, the security measures in Mac OS X (and its Unix foundation) will limit any damage it can do. In the (unlikely) event that you stumble upon a Trojan horse that deletes your user folder, and you have a Time Machine backup (assuming you're running Leopard or later), you can still recover - you won't be able to log in normally, so you'll have to boot from the Mac OS X install disc, and choose "Restore Time Machine backup" from Utilities. Let TM do its thing, and reboot. You'll be back to normal. :)
     
  10. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    #10
    It’s running Tiger. The computer is an eMac g4, refurbished and upgraded by someone with 20 years experience in fixing and refurbishing Macs, and I figured for about $80 it would be a good way for me to try a Mac without spending a fortune. It’s capable of taking leopard, but not snow leopard.

    After that e-mail fiasco, I e-mailed everyone in my contacts to warn them not to open anything suspicious from me just in case. One friend e-mailed back that she has a Mac, so she’s immune. Then I went to a yard sale and picked up a copy of The Macintosh Bible, and decided a Mac is a gotta-have. After that, I came across this Mac.

    Yes, it’s just a little old one, but I don’t do gaming or music or anything fancy on it. I don’t know how, and it looks like it’ll meet my needs.
     
  11. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #11
    Oh, I'm not accusing you of starting a mud slinging contest, but I think there are some people on the forum just looking for a chance to start one ;)

    The eMac G4 was a nice machine (I used to have one). It is getting a little old though. You will not be able to run any modern Mac software since it has the older G4 chip (which is now several generations behind, especially since Apple switched to Intel chips) but if your eMac came with iLife then you will be able to do a lot of useful things like create slide shows and edit videos and burn them onto a DVD (assuming your eMac has a DVD burner). Older versions of Microsoft Office and Safari will work just fine too.

    I hope you enjoy it! :)
     
  12. Christine1234, Mar 2, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011

    Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    #12
    Thanks. I didn’t mean to imply that. If you look on You Tube, some of that sort of stuff gets pretty bad. I’ve been looking at videos of how to use a Mac.

    If this eMac lives up to the Mac hype, then maybe I’ll get a newer one in the future. If nothing else, it'll make a good backup computer.
     
  13. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #13
    Thanks! :)
    So far, viruses are non-existent for Mac OS X. The handful of trojans are rare to encounter, if you're being smart. In addition to the link that ECUpirate44 posted, you may benefit from this post I just made in another thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=12037565&postcount=22
     
  14. BoxerBoy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    #14
    Like yourself Christine, I am a newcomer to Macs and had the same concerns re. what to do about security. I have also read up on both sides of the debate, and decided to install Intego, thinking that it won't do any harm, and if Mac attacks increase at least I 'll have some protection.

    So far so good, it works quietly in the background and doesn't appear to slow the mac at all.

    No harm done and I can sleep peacefully.
     
  15. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #15
    As has already been stated several times, no anti-virus app will protect you from future attacks by malware that has not yet been created.
     
  16. elmateo487 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    #16
    The first thing you will run into that acts as a virus is a toolbar for Safari.

    Just don't download any, make sure you watch what add ons you are installing when installing new software.

    Safari Toolbars can be HELL
     
  17. Christine1234, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011

    Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
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    Flagstaff, AZ
    #17
    Thanks for the links. I printed off a copy of those hints for keeping it safe.

    I think I'll just not worry about getting any anti-virus software for now, and if viruses that attack Tiger ever start coming out, I'll upgrade to leopard and/or try Intego.

    Yes, it does have a DVD burner. :)

    And I'll watch out for Safari toolbars, thanks.
     
  18. Rowf macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    #18
    I think it comes down to peace of mind and confidence.
    On windows I had Norton internet security, Spybot S&D, Adblock plus and noscript as protection.
    Moving on to the macbook two months ago, after years of windows use, I found the conflicting views and 'flame wars' on the topic of malware/virus confusing as well.
    No antivirus??
    It's a culture shock :eek:

    Finally I settled on Sophos antivirus for mac, it's free, uses little resources and has an uninstaller (it also runs on Tiger, according to the Sophos site)
    I use it as I would use a scanner on windows, context scanning for downloaded files and a weekly full system scan.

    It hasn't found anything yet and I'm starting to consider it as a kind of comfort blanket for migrating windows users..............

    That said, it also gives me peace of mind while I learn more about what and what not to do on the mac system, after all, I'm still in unfamiliar territory.

    So, go for what makes you comfortable while you are learning, if you are convinced that the mac system is safe, no need to worry, if you are unsure it doesn't hurt to take whatever you consider to be a extra measure of protection, then you can make an informed decision as your knowledge increases.

    I'm not on any side of any fence, just where I'm comfortable at the moment.
    Oh, and don't forget to turn the firewall on :)
     
  19. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #19
    A fair point. One thing that hasn't yet been mentioned in this thread is that you may still accidentally download files that are infected with Windows viruses. They will not harm your Mac at all, of course, but you risk passing them along to your Windows friends. So at the very least one benefit of running a virus scanner on your Mac is to help you find Windows viruses.

    For me, running antivirus software is firmly outside my comfort zone. I switched to the Mac in 2003, and in those days, it was possible to "work smart" and avoid viruses by not opening email attachments and stuff like that. There were some viruses that occasionally broke through (the Nimda virus took down my entire workplace one afternoon) but if you weren't on a corporate LAN, turned off VBScript, and didn't download unknown email attachments, and generally "didn't do anything dumb" you could pretty much be assured you wouldn't pick up a virus.

    Then, sometime after 2003, when I was happily switched to OS X, a few new words started to enter the popular vernacular: spyware, adware, malware. And somewhere in those years, viruses started to get pretty insidious (and/or Windows vulnerabilities started to get pretty big). Now everyone was regularly running antivirus (Avast! was a popular choice) and you were positively stupid not to.

    (I'm really glad I skipped that stage of PC ownership. So many of my friends were reinstalling Windows and asking me to help them clean up the spyware/adware from their machines. I was able to honestly say "sorry, I really have no idea how to do any of that stuff.")

    I even fell for it myself. In 2009 I bought a netbook running Windows XP, my first Windows machine since I switched in 2003. Naively I did not install antivirus software on it, thinking that my usage habits from 2003 were still enough to protect me. Nope, somehow, within 2 weeks of owning the machine, I got infected.

    Certainly do what is comfortable for you, and if running virus scanners give you piece of mind then hey, it's worth it. I just wanted to point out that it wasn't always this way, unfortunately.
     
  20. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    Mar 2, 2011
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    #20
    Sophos seems to have a good reputation. Avira has worked pretty well for me, and it’s free. It’s caught viruses before they had a chance to implant themselves into the computer. The Avira and Spybot didn’t seem to get along too well though, so I stopped using the Spybot.

    Spyware is a nuisance. I was looking at terrariums, then all sorts of ads for terrariums started popping up on the computer. There were way too many for that to be a coincidence. Greedy people! :mad: And you’re right, infecting other computers is a crummy thing to do to somebody.

    The disks for Windows XP and Office are stashed away in a box. Office should work on the Mac, right? Or does Mac have a better program?

    I log into my work e-mail from home, and the computers there are on a corporate LAN. Will that make any difference?

    How do you turn on a firewall?

    Thanks! :)
     
  21. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #21
    MS Office for Mac works great. iWork, OpenOffice and NeoOffice are a few alternatives.
    How do you log in? Through a web browser? If so, that shouldn't cause any problem.
    System Preferences > Security > Firewall
     
  22. Christine1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    Christine1234

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    Mar 2, 2011
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    #22
    I just called and asked the computer tech guy's wife, and she said it's not really a web browser, but they do have three layers of firewall.

    I'll check out those three office programs, thanks. :) Office programs made for a Mac will probably work better on a Mac than one that's made for Windows.
     
  23. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #23
    You can't run MS Office for Windows (or any other Windows software) on native Mac OS X. To run such apps, you would have to install Parallels or VMware Fusion or install Windows in Boot Camp.
     
  24. Rowf macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    #24
    Hi Christine,

    As a new user you have a bucket load of questions, just the same as me :)

    One thing I've found really useful is the link to MROOGLE in GGJstudios posts.

    Click on it and you've got a search engine for the forums that goes back for yonks.

    Add it to your bookmarks and you've got instant access to a load of stuff, give it a look, it's well worth it.
     
  25. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #25

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