The Future of Mac/Viruses/Spyware etc.

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by niter, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. niter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    I have been reading around the forum tonight and there has been quite a bit of discussion concerning the possible backlash (via viruses and spyware) of the mac mini's likely popularity.

    The stance I have currently, especially after being a PC user, is that no computer system is perfect and immune to such things as viruses and spyware. Though neither are issues to the Apple world, they very well could be tomorrow.

    When I was a PC user I had relatively little problems with my computer beyond the annoyances of Windows itself. It was not the viruses and spyware that pushed me to switch (though that was a nice bonus) simply was the horrible way Windows handled itself--and I even was a rather good user with little Windows issues. It makes me chuckle now to see all the people my husband and I recommend Norton and Adaware to scramble daily to maintain their computer with them. I have no problems keeping up with the security of my computer and I even maintain a virus program on my iBook currently.

    However, I will admit, I have become somewhat lazy about my care of my computer. The ease of use lends itself to procrastionation when backing up my files. I might wait a few weeks to back up, more so when I am not really saving anything of value on my computer anyways.

    I just want to make sure that the routine of a virus protection software and reasonably scheduled backups is adequate for my role as a common user. That is, I am doing my part that if a virus should occur, it is not going to be passed along from my computer and I will have backups to save any possible deletion of files. But is there MORE I should or could be doing? Really, anything would be worlds less than what I was doing on my PC and even then, that was minimal.

    I consider myself to be knowledgble and responsible Windows user in the past, and I would like to make sure that I am doing the same as an Apple user and not going by the wayside just because it is easy to do so.
  2. altair macrumors regular

    Nov 22, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I dont really have anything constructive to say, other than its gunna be a lot harder to make a virus for a mac when any change to the system requires a password. So unless they can somehow fake you into typing in your password, I dont really see a virus occuring.
  3. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I think you're doing just fine. Considering that most Mac users don't even run anti-virus software (myself included), you're doing plenty. I agree that if the Mac starts to gain marketshare, there is a good possibility that we will see malware written for the Mac. However, it won't even begin to come close to the amount of stuff out there for Windows, mostly because OS X really is a much more secure, better designed OS.
  4. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    You are correct that "MacOS X is a more secure, better designed OS." What you really need to appreciate, however, is that Windows is a less secure, worse designed OS. My god, we are talking about an OS that does not require a password even for an administrative account. I am saddened every time I hear a Mac user accept Microsoft's excuse that its f'ed-up system gets so many viruses and other malware is because it is more popular. The Redmond monopoly made certain design choices that have dramatically reduced the security of its OS. Microsoft chose not to require a password for its user accounts. It chose not to implement pop-up blocking in Internet Explorer. It also chose to alllow IE to render badly formed HTML. It chose to allow Visual Basic for Applications to have the run of the OS. There are thousands of other such design choices. It is true that they are bad in an OS that is ubiquitous in the industry. However, these choices would be bad if there was only one copy of Windows in use.
  5. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Harder, yes. But do you really think that a hacker couldn't get around this. I bet if someone (with the right knowledge bsd and os x) could figure it out in three days tops.
  6. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004
    I have a feeling if and when OSX gets over a 5% user base you are going to start to see spyware/adaware and some virus slowly start popping up. Reason being is that OSX will be at a high enough number base to start making it worth it. Along with that the average Mac user is just a dumb as the average windows user in what they do on the net and how they maintain there computer. On top of that there is even less of a chance that a Mac user will have an antivirus software or any software to remove/prevent spyware.

    Along with growing popularty of non IE base webrowser (which now I starting to hear of reports of people trying to crack them so safria more than likely going ot have some of the same holes that firefox has what ever they are).

    Lastly it not a question of if the mac will ever get a virus or spyware on it. it more a question of when and it just a matter of time
  7. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Wrong. The number of viruses infecting an OS depends primarily on the number of vulnerabilities, not the number of users.
  8. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    1. Macs have ~7% market share at best guess (due to older Macs)
    2. A few years ago when Apple hit a low, there were still viruses out there. System 7 namely, but I think maybe one or two for OS 8.
    3. I have a feeling that OS X will get over a 5% installed base, out of the entire market share (5% of all computers and up, not out of Macs) and OS X will still be safe.

    Just repair your permissions, people, and you will be fine!
  9. dejo Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    The Centennial State
    With all the Apple-haters out there, don't you think a few would've tried to write the killer Mac virus by now? That certainly would make that hacker damn famous and make a lot of Mac zealots eat crow.
  10. khammack macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    Portland, OR
    We get hit with this sort of theory in linux land all the time. It doesn't hold water when talking about linux, nor does it work when talking about MacOS X.

    First, even if it were purely an issue of numbers, what you are saying is that nobody has ever bothered to write a virus for OSX/Linux/FreeBSD/UNIX and that's why it isn't a problem.

    It has been tried, there are "proof of concept" type viruses around. They don't spread. I've used linux for 10 years, and I've never relied upon a virus scanner for protection (in fact they didn't even have them until recently, and they mostly just check for windows viruses that may happen to be visible to linux via shared drives, etc).

    The second reason why the theory of numbers doesn't hold up: malicious software also spreads via webservers. And yet Apache, the most popular web server, is responsible for none of the debilitating web worms over the last several years. The installed base for apache vastly overshadows that of IIS:

    If your feeling were true, Apache would be a much more attractive target than Microsoft's own IIS; yet all the major web worms we've ever heard of attack IIS. There are no serious exploits (of which I'm aware) to apache. Try searching for "apache worm" on google, then "iis worm". Here was my favorite:

    Of course, that's older, as is this one:,1759,1240915,00.asp

    Doesn't matter. Many windows users have come to believe after a decade of using microsoft that the current capitalism driven approach to virus management is the only way to deal with a virus problem. This is not true.

    When security is enabled on windows, it becomes equivalent to unix in one regard: most chinks in unix's armor are a result of bugs in the software, not problems inherent in the security model.

    If the system software functioned perfectly there would be no way for a virus to spread. But hackers/worms can take advantage of bugs in the system software itself to get around the inherent system security. Where microsoft and all unix differ is in how they deal with this particular problem:

    Microsoft, in an effort to maintain binary compatibility, doesn't fix the bug. Instead they rely on virus detection and removal.

    The other approach, employed in unix land, is to simply fix the bug. Then there is nothing left to exploit. The virus falls flat on it's face because it has nowhere to go.

    Also, consider that many viruses exploit the same bug or security deficiency. With a virus scanner you need to update your virus signature database every time a new virus is discovered, even if it exploits the same hole. But if you fix the hole, every virus that ever has or ever would have exploited that hole is now defunct.

    Microsoft is giving up with longhorn; they are adopting the strategy employed by pretty much everyone else. And by doing so they will likely reduce their virus problem by 1000%. The following article covers many of the reasons why microsoft has chosen to deal with these issues as they have in the past:

    It's worth the read, partially because it provides weight to my argument, but also because it sheds light on what those guys in redmond are thinking. Turns out, they had their reasons. It was just a bad idea in the long run, and had more to do with gaining quick market share than striving for techinical excellence. What a surprise. :)

    Which is, if you buy into my argument above, irrelevant. It's not that open source / unix / macos stuff never has bugs that are exploitable. They just get fixed, removing the opportunity for viruses and worms to spread.

    But that's just my opinion.

  11. iJon macrumors 604


    Feb 7, 2002
    i agree. It's like that guy over in Europe who has cracked the CSS on DVD's as well as getting Airport Express to play to other programs on Windows. I think someone like him would have already tried. Os X has been out for almost four years and nothing has touched it. The closest breaking there has been when someone figured out you can hold a key down for about 5 minutes and overload the screen saver and waltz on in and Apple fixed that pretty quick.

    I really feel Apple's admin password requirements, secure OS, as well as closed firewall ports from the factory play together with our small user base to make us very invulnerable. As of today I am not scared and I won't feel any less if everyone and their mother gets a Mac mini.

  12. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park

    I don't think there are many apple-haters, rather people are afraid of macs because they are different. And usually these people don't know much about computers anyway.
  13. jholzner macrumors 65816


    Jul 24, 2002
    Champaign, IL
    Open source anitivirus built into mac os X...maybe someday!

    Well, I think apple should work with these guys:

    I think it's a great idea for Apple to build antivirus software into the core of the OS...scanning every file that is put on the computer. I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard...Spotlight alreday will scan everyfile...why not make this one extra step! This would prepare them for increased market share and also be the ONLY OS to have this as standard and part of the OS.

    They could do for these guys what they did for the khtml project.
  14. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004
    yeah right just tell you self that. Because lets see around 90% of the mark is windows. So for spyware and crap you want to make stuff that effect that largest market share so you going to attack windows.

    2nd the jackasses that make viruses want to infenct the most computers possible to get there name out there and again windows is the place to go

    3rd it is a unwriten law that you dont virsues for linux and you dont attack linux

    4th the linux comunity has a whole is much more computer savy than the mac and windows computer and for the most part they know how to do safe surfing.

    5th viruse writers have this image of they want to take down the man the big guy. Guess what that is M$. Also Linux is huge no no to make virus for
    Holes may make it eaiser but it means very little when it comes to viruses.

    I could correct my statement in the fact that the mac commintee as a whole proublely is more likely to do unsafing surf pratices due to the fact that they think they are extremly sercure. and they think they know a lot about computers

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