Potential danger in using Time Machine?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by hajime, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. hajime macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    I heard that there is no virus for the Mac OS so far. However, as the Macs are gaining popularity, this could happen one day. I upgraded to Leopard recently and would like to decide whether I should rely completely on Time Machine. What if there will be a virus which affects this program? Will all the backups be affected?
  2. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
  3. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    never say nev.... ehh, ain't.....

    while it is extremely unlikely, if you are that concerned about it, you could always make your own backups on a separate disk.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.
  4. That-Is-Bull macrumors 6502


    Sep 29, 2007
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    Actually, I think a virus was made for OS X for a $10,000 contest using a security hole in Safari in 2004 or something.
  5. DanB91 macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    it is almost impossible to make a virus for os x. the only "viruses" ive seen so far, have required people to enter their password or run an installer. nothing, it seems, can be done with out the user's attention. and os x doesnt seem to overdo those annoying security popups like windoze. yet it is 1000x more secure, funny isnt it?
  6. GSMiller macrumors 68000


    Dec 2, 2006
  7. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Isn't that more of a trojan?

    Anyways, OP, if you are overly concerned for the welfare of your Mac, you could always do manual backups in addition to Time Machine.
  8. DanB91 macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    yes it is, thats why i put virus in quotes ;)
  9. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Well gosh darn it, you're confusing those who know by trying to simplify it for those who don't! :p
  10. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    Yeah, Apple only ship between one and two and a half million machines a quarter. Very unpopular - that's why there are no viruses. Nothing to do with OS X, which is holier than Swiss cheese.

  11. Wayfarer macrumors 65816


    Jun 15, 2007
    This thread title should have a question mark after it, otherwise it's misleading... >.>
  12. boz0 macrumors regular

    May 21, 2007
    It is perfectly possible to write a virus for MacOS. A virus is a piece of code with the ability to embed itself into a legitimate program and execute itself each time the legitimate program is called. Some definitions also include the self-replication ability. You'll note that actually doing Evil Things(tm) is not part of a virus' definition : just as you can find malware which isn't a virus (eg, trojans, spywares, ...), a virus doesn't even need to actually do anything to be considered such.

    Now, it's true that a virus requires some kind of action to infect a host. In the early PC days (think MS-DOS), this always required that the user actually run a binary. In later times, virii came to rely more and more on existing security holes to stealthily infect a host, but this is by no means a requirement. Anyway, while MacOS X is more secure by default than your average Windows box, nobody beyond Steve Jobs would be so bold as to claim it doesn't have a single vulnerability (as was demonstrated during the "hack a mac" contest in this year's CanSecWest edition).

    Lastly, the Unix security model as applied to MacOS X does mean that, in case of a successful infection, the extent of the compromise could be limited to a non-privileged user. That's mitigation, but it does not mean the host hasn't been infected :p
  13. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    There is some anti virus software for OS X if you are at all concerned. Also as stated before you could do manual back ups along with time machine. THis is something I plan on doing, more for if I have a hardware error or if I find a time machine bug.
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    What if the sky falls on your head?

    You worry about a virus that doesn't exist, doing things that virus writers don't do. Viruses in the windows world are written for profit. They are written to take over your machine, to steal passwords or to use it in a botnet. In either case, a virus tries not to be destructive, because then you would notice and get someone to remove the virus. Destroying your backups doesn't benefit a virus writer.

    So the likelihood that a virus would mess with Time Machine is very, very, very slim.
  15. psonice macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2005
    All of you suggesting that osx is really secure and viruses will never be an issue, you have your heads in the sand. Vulnerabilities are regularly discovered (I found one myself even) - what do you think all the security updates and quicktime updates every few weeks are for? And apple doesn't have the best of reputations for acknowledging and fixing the holes fast.

    It's hard to really know how secure osx is unless you're really digging for holes regularly and comparing it with other OSes. I'd guess that it's fairly good though - that and the small user base are the reason there's no real threat so far I think. But there is now a 'serious' trojan out there, so clearly the virus writers are starting to pay interest. Things could get a lot worse for the mac in the next year or two.

    So realistically, if somebody finds a vulnerability (it would have to be remotely exploitable - i.e. an infected machine connects via ichat, or an email, or to an open port) and writes a nasty bit of code that erases files, yes, time machine backups are going to disappear fast. Apple leaving the firewall disabled by default isn't going to help at all.

    However, I think it's really unlikely. A virus, yes, I think that's possible. Erasing the time machine backup? Probably not - there's no profit in it. The trojan we've seen is aimed at stealing bank account details and ebay accounts, it's not just there to cause hassle. What COULD happen though, is that the virus encrypts your backup then erases your original files - then asks you for money in return for a key to unlock your stuff. This has been happening on PCs for a while now.

    If you have anything you really can't live without, make a backup to dvd or whatever regularly as well as using time machine, and disconnect your time machine drive when you're not using it. And use a secure password, and turn that firewall on.
  16. boz0 macrumors regular

    May 21, 2007

    Oh, and once you have that secure password in place, think twice before entering it when the system asks you for administrator rights : how far do you trust the source of that application? The bottom line is, if you don't trust it, don't run it. Each time you enter that admin password, you're signing a blank check for the app to do whatever it wants on your system.
  17. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    I wouldn't touch any Anti-Virus software. In my opinion, most of the viruses are made by anti-virus software companies so people keep renewing their product.

    I heard it causes a lot of mess on OSX too.

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