Viruses and Spyware

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by macgeek77, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. macgeek77 macrumors regular

    May 24, 2006
    I had a question about mac security.

    I have checked my mac for viruses with ClamXav and have not come up with anything. Is ClamXav powerful enough to find viruses? THe main reason why I search for them is so that I do not hurt my friends who use PC's.

    Also, what about Spyware? Could my mac be infected with spyware? If so, could it be sent to my friends unknowingly like a virus? Is there software I can get to wipe it out?

    Thanks for any help.
  2. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    As long as your virus definitions are up to date (which ClamXav should do automatically) and the directory where the file resides is actually included in your scan, it will do a good job.

    Spyware, outside of a couple of proof-of-concept instances, is non-existent on OS X. Nothing to worry about at this time. It can't install on OS X, so it can't propagate itself to your PC friends. Combine that with ClamXav and your friends don't have to worry about you.
  3. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    Is the reason it can't install due to permissions? If one is on the web as an admin user is there still protection against self installation?
  4. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    No the reason is that they're .exe files that rely on the Windows API...just like other Windows programs, they can't run on OS X. Admin or not has nothing to do with it.

    Of course, things change if you're running Windows on your Mac...then your Windows partition is just as vulnerable as any other PC.
  5. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    Seems a waste of time really. Unless your friends are silly enough to open .exe files in an email, the chance of them getting a virus through email are slim. I also know of no way OS X can attach a secret virus to an email.

    Virtually all viruses are for Windows, so the only way this would happen would be if a Mac OS virus was created, the purpose of which would be to force Apple Mail or whatever to send a Windows virus through email. The chances of that are miniscule.

    Spyware work like viruses, in that they are PC programs that infect the registry and other components of Windows. I know of no OS X spyware.

    I'd ditch the virus program - it's pointless.
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    There's a Mac spyware scanner called MacScan (free trial), but I've yet to hear of any actual spyware or of it identifying anything disturbing. Pretty much all it finds is advertising cookies. Which of course you knew were there already. ;)

    As for Clam, it's excellent. Just stay updated. They've been working very hard, and I think the general consensus is that they are basically as good as any commercial solution (plus they behave themselves and don't muck with the system in the way the commercial ones do). It was recommended by IT Security, for instance.

    But it's also important to understand the concepts of vectors and replication in viruses. There are vectors for viruses onto your Mac -- files you download, etc. There are basically no replication schemes in the wild. The only way you can pass along a virus to a PC user is if you download a file off the internet that has a virus and pass that same file that you downloaded to the PC user. For instance, if you download an infected audio or video file, e.g. off Limewire, and give it to someone, you could share a Windows virus with a Windows user.

    However, when you are doing more typical things -- e.g. creating documents in Office or Adobe or other apps and sharing them -- the chances of distributing even a Windows virus to a Windows user are zero, because there's no replication mechanism that can put the virus in the file you created. Does that make sense?

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