Regarding Mac OS X security

Discussion in 'macOS' started by jc0481, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    I was having a discussion with my friend who is a strong supporter of Linux and open source in general. I showed him how easy it was to install programs just with the dmg file. Just drag and drop. He was then saying it would be easier for the mac to get a virus than the Linux architecture because it does not ask for the password when you install the program. I did not know how to fight back on that one. He also said it is an easier path for the virus on the mac than it is on a Ubuntu machine. Do you guys have any advice on this?
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Try installing an application into /Applications or Software Update without using an administrator's account or knowing its password.

    There's a lot of convenience when running as administrator. A more secure experience would be running as a standard account.
  3. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    Since they are both built on Unix, I'd say the chances are about the same.
  4. LukeDeFian macrumors member


    Dec 5, 2007

    The truth has been said
  5. adjei7 macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2007
    I think the only issue here, when comparing mac and linux, is the popularity of the OS. The more popular, the more likely viruses are written and released for it, and the more chance it has of being affected. Not quite sure but I would say mac is a more popular platform therefore has more chance of catching.

    But to be honest, I don't think either has crossed that barrier of being widespread enough to warrant enough people writing viruses for them. There would be too little impact, so in conclusion I would have to agree with Robert.

    (Long winded but got there in the end)
  6. psonice macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2005
    I'd say linux would be more secure. Unfortunately for linux, not always for the best of reasons :)

    First, to seriously use linux as a desktop, you really need to be pretty computer literate. You can use it without much knowledge, but once something goes wrong or you need to change certain things, you usually end up typing commands into a terminal. The kind of people who use linux then tend to know what they're doing, how to secure a computer, and not to open that file that the porn site wants you to install.

    Second, there are versions of linux (or options on a lot of the distros) that make it very secure. Usually at the expense of being able to do anything without a lot of messing around, but they are secure.

    Last, it's less of a target because the market share is so small. Linux as a whole is a lot smaller than osx, and if you break it down into all of the platforms and distros, it shrinks even more. Having said that though, I bet for the same reason osx is more "secure through obscurity" on the server side - there are a lot of linux servers, and a few viruses for them.
  7. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Have two accounts, a day-to-day one and an administrator one. When you then try to drag software to the Applications folder you'll immediately be prompted with an authentication dialog.

    UNIX systems should always run under the least-privilege model. Only use the rights that you need.
  8. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    Why does everyone resort to market share for security arguments? I'd bet that there are more *nix servers out there than windows servers, and as far as hackers go - a server is many more times more valuable than someone's game and porn box at home. Also, given how Apple touts it's security over windows boxes almost daily, the security through obscurity things goes right out the window - because it is equivalent to the holy grail for hackers - if nothing else, for the notoriety of being the first to bring down a Mac, (and not by using third party hardware and a third-party driver for said harware).

    I say market share has very little to do with it - and may even make them a bigger target for the more skilled hackers, not your run of the mill scriptkiddies that are putting links on porn sites to a social engineering dependent trojan.

    My $.02
  9. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    As a long term Linux user (since mid 90's) and recent Mac switcher I would disagree with you here. In my experience it take very little skill to run a few google's and then type in some stuff that some article written by some bloke tells you to type in the hope that it will allow you to play mp3's. Also, how many unnecessary packages does the typical Linux distro have and how many users go through these with a fine toothed comb and get rid of the ones which leave them open to hacking. I've been using both Redhat/Fedora and Ubuntu and I don't honestly believe that they are any more or less secure than a typical Mac. They both have similar attack vectors and the highest risk of these is always the user via social engineering. Probably the next highest risk is web browser vuln. or P2P file sharing or email attachments which again probably affect both equally.

    To me the ease with which I can use my Mac without having to hack the terminal every 5 minutes allows me to concentrate more on what I'm doing and probably makes me less likely to do something stupid at the wrong time...

  10. Bobbi Flekman macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    The largest part of security is the guy/girl sitting in front of the system. If you act stupid, then you'll get infected, hacked, whatever. There are certain principles that will just hold true regardless of platform.
    1. Use a "restricted account" for daily work. For Apple this means uncheck the "This User Can Administer The Computer" checkbox, for Windows creating a Restricted Account. When you want to do something in restricted areas the Operating System will bug you for a name and password of an Administrator.
    2. Use a good password. There are more than enough tutorials about that on the net, so enjoy.
    4. Guard your personals. You may think they are worth "nothing" because you're an average Joe. But I've seen more than enough ID thefts that were used to get domains for spam servers, kiddie porn servers, etc. Ever had spam from yourself?
    5. Use a firewall to block access to your network.
    6. Not really necessary on the Mac (yet), but keep an eye open for viruses and spyware.
    7. And the most important... Use common sense. Will an unknown person send you a love letter? Is it really possible to send in $ 1000.00 and make a cool million of it? If all this were true everyone would be rich, loved, whatever.
    Distrust people. Or rather, don't trust them to be beneficent. Everyone has their own agenda, so you will never ever get something for free. The clue is finding out the catch behind it all.

    Every Operating System can be broken, but every Operating System can also be secured. I've my Windows systems locked down tight, I have my Macs locked down tight.

    The bigger the marketshare, the larger the amount of computers on the net with those exploits and vulnerablilties. The larger the payoff of breaking a system.

    There are more *nix servers out on the web, no argument there. But.... In light of what I wrote above, more valuable than home computers? With broadband and people not switching off their systems you have a veritable army out there.

    Home users aren't extremely knowledgable about computer security, so easier to break. Once under control, the bad guy can keylog credit cards, passwords, bank numbers, social security numbers and rob you blind. Take your name, adress, etc. to use in shady operations as whois info for domains dealing in illegal stuff. Your computer can be used as a zombie for DDOS attacks, spam relays, webserving illegal content like child porn. The corporate world will be secured a lot better than this.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, with OS X slowly climbing out of a niche and becoming a double digit market, you will become interesting for the bad guy to "play with". Simple examples are the slow rise of viruses, spyware (think of DNSChanger), and now rogues (MacSweeper). You will have to become more security aware with a larger userbase. Period.

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