why is there no virus for mac?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by sunrobby, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. sunrobby macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2006
    Hi, im a new switcher to mac because of being sick of windows, many viruses, spywares, etc. Im just confuse, why is there no virus for mac? (although i read a virus found on mac, but cant remember where) Some people said that because it's UNIX based, its security is not as vulnerable as DOS. Some people said that the virus maker just dont want to create virus for mac, it's not worth it as the affected computer will be small number compared to if they infected windows. So.. just wanna know in you guys as a long time mac user opinion about this? Thanks :)
  2. iMacFan78 macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2006
    You have answered your own question. :)
  3. sunrobby thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2006
    Which one? The unix based one or virus maker doesnt want to make virus for mac?
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    All of them. None of them. There's no definitive answer, only what people think. But what it all boils down to is:

    There are no viruses for Mac OS X.
  5. ero87 macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2006
    New York City
    I don't really buy the argument that there are NO viruses BECAUSE of the small percentage of macs... that would only explain why there might be FEWER viruses on macs.

    But there aren't fewer. there are NONE. This leads me to believe there is something inherent in Mac OSX's structure that is virus-repellent.

    PS. Why do people write viruses?! What is the POINT?!
  6. idea_hamster macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2003
    NYC, or thereabouts
    Genereally accepted theory:

    It's both of these factors acting together.

    Generally, more secure systems reduce a virus's ability to spread. Generally, a lower population density reduces a virus's ability to spread.

    Together, these factors sharply limit the amount of mayhem that virus writers can generate.

    My own personal theory:

    There are two kinds of hackers: the teenage vandal who wants to cause damage and the libertarian-esque vigilante who wants to prove that his/her own superiority and freedom.

    The first wants to cause harm and attacks Windows systems, preying on the population density factor. They know Windows because they learn from other hackers who know windows.

    The second knows unix from their practice of hacking at the network/server level -- which would be useful for hacking Macs -- but they are uninterested in causing any real damage and mayhem. In fact this group is interested in gaining access rather causing damage. So they are generally uninterested in causing problems for individuals.

  7. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I think the virus writer fits the profile of a Mac hater, Windows fanboy, that also hates Microsoft. They hate the Mac so much they don't want to steal or buy a Mac and spend any time to learn and port over their viruses to the Mac.
  8. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005
    That where you are wrong. It is a mixture of the factors on why that is the case.
    You have the personal theory of the guy above me. which holds true. But to add to that is a lot of those window virus makers are script kiddies who dont really know how to make there own viruses. A lot of the "new virus" out there use the very simlure bases codes as an older virus. Just change a little to do what they want it to do.
    So since there is almost no base code to work with on the OSX yet that takes out a vaste majority of the possible writers to begin with.

    2nd the people who really have the knowleged to do it are intersted in infomation not causing maham. The numbers game comes into play here. Those people want to get the most infomation the quitest. Hmm spend time making virus/ worms for windows where not only is it easier to work with but raw numbers. Or spend my time making something for OSX where it is harder to do and there are not very many of them out there..... tough choice. They dont want to be famuos

    Also if you want to go with the law of proublitiy here. Lets say everyday 1 random computer user in this word tries to make a new virus. That virus has a 1/100 chance of being a working virus. So so about every 100 days or so a working virus comes out for some random OS. Now lets assume OSX have 5/100 computers out there. So only 5 times out of every 100 working virus they will work on OSX. With random selection it is possible for OSX never to get a virus.

    Mind you that is a simplefid verson to explain the point. But lets add to it for a virus to work on OSX the odds are 1/1000 compared to the 1/100 of windows. Now the statical odds of a virus for a max are 5/100,000days that a virus will be made for a max compared to the 95/10,000 days for windows.

    It really a mixture of the fact that it is harder to make virus for OSX and there are a lot few computers running OSX. Each one distracts from making them for it on it own but put them to gether it decreases the odds greatly that a virus will be made for OSX by just the laws of problility as my point showed.

    *and please no one go in and attack the odds saying that it should be this or that. Those numbers where being used to prove a mathicmical point so I used easy numbers.
  9. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    OS 9 had plenty of viruses. Mind you, it was no where near the number of Windows viruses but I believe that this fact alone disproves the "security through obscurity" myth. OS X has been around for more than 5 years. That is plenty of time for those people who wrote OS 9 viruses to get their act together and write a few for OS 9. Although, maybe they work for Quark.

    A while back there was a contest that offered $25,000 to the first person who could successfully write a Mac OS X viruses that could self duplicate and infect other machines with little or no interaction from the user. It was never claimed. Well, it was also canceled for obvious legal reasons. But it was around long enough that surely one or two ambitious hackers would have taken the opportunity to earn a tenth of a quarter million dollars.

    Macs are less prone to viruses because they are less prone to virues. Windows comes to you with its doors, windows, vents and cracks wide open. I guess this is to accomodate the 10,000,000 programs that each need a different port open on which to operate. Macs come to you significantly more secure. Having the OS, hardware and primary software all designed by Apple helps their cause. Apple doesn't have to accomodate the same 10,000,000 software apps.

    Oh, and Mac OS X asks you for a password before you install anything. Unlike windows where you just have to visit a website.
  10. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    OS X has a two-fold reason for the apparent lack of viral problems:
    1. Smaller userbase = small target. I'll get to that in a minute.
    2. OS X's security model is staunchly UNIX-like, meaning most things are closed by default and anything "important" requires user intervention (usually an admin password).

    There are two reasons to write a virus, usually:
    1. To amass an army of "zombie" machines to use in DDoS or similar attack.
    2. To amass an army of "zombie" machines to relay spam.

    Either way, there tends to be a *lot* of money in writing a really good virus capable of building a strong army of "zombie" machines. Control of a network with millions of PCs is worth a lot of money to a lot of people.

    Spam mail servers get blacklisted regularly. Distributing that mail load across millions of IPs (each running their own custom mail server) makes it harder for mail server admins to stop the problem and help the spammers get their message to your inbox.

    Controlling millions of PCs ready to flood a server or a network to the brink of overload (read up on DDoS attacks) could be quite lucrative, as well. Some sell that power to anyone interested while others use that power to blackmail or extort money from organizations who aren't interested in being knocked offline for an indeterminant amount of time.

    Periodically, you'll find someone who writes a virus as a proof of concept and accidentally releases it. Sometimes you'll find someone who writes a truly malicious virus with the intent of destroy a lot of data in a lot of places.

    Usually, though, they're driven by the same thing that drives us all: money.
  11. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005

    no it doesnt disprove it, you point more proves it. Yeah OS9 had viruses but as you also stated it had a lot less than windows. Security though obscurity is very true. Less likely just mathmiticly to have one made for you.

    2nd one is it just plannly a lot harder to make a virus for OSX.

    Mix the 2 and you have a very secury system. Using that cash prize example is a logical error. By that aguement I could say there are no crabs in this word because I set a crab pot that was all ready for them. full of bait and stuff they want but none came to it.

    I think the best way of explain it is the mathicmic example I wrote up top.
  12. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    The biggest problem with your argument is that you basically ascribe every computer in the world to a ping pong ball and every 100 days someone pulls out a ball. Sure, a Mac ball will get pulled a lot less often but life isn't as random as you describe. If the security through obscurity myth was true, then there would be some viruses for Mac OS X but there aren't any.

    Sure you can say that the reason is two fold; that because it is more secure AND it is obscure, there aren't any viruses. Well, my thought is the obscure part is irrelevant because the secure part is enough. Until there is a Mac virus in the wild, there is no reason to think otherwise.
  13. FF_productions macrumors 68030


    Apr 16, 2005
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    I couldn't really ever see OSX have any viruses. Windows is so prone to viruses it's ridiculous. Downstairs, we have my dad's **** pc, it runs Symantec Anti-Virus every night at 3 in the morning, and every once in a while it picks up some heavy viruses. That's ridiculous. The day a virus comes to Mac OSX is the day the world ends for 4 percent of the worlds computer users (mac users).
  14. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005
    That was the first part of me exaplain securing thoguh obscurity.
    If you went on and read the 2nd part you showed how it was 2 fold. and still sticking with the random case.

    A mac ball is pulled out it only has 1/1,000 chance of being a working viruse. A windows ball is pulled out is has 1/100 chance of being a working virus.

    So the total odds of a working mac virus working on any given day is 5/100,000
    Compared to 95/10000 for windows.

    That how I was showing it was 2 fold. But the odds still are random. The obscurity part just decreases the odds of a viruse being made for a mac.

    There is a more complected mathmatic explation that still uses the laws of proublity that explains why windows virus will grow faster than the odds in a mac virus that shows even more why the security though obscure grows even faster. But for simplesity sake my example shows it pretty well how it does effect it.

    Plus it bring it more in line with reality and more shows why the few numbers is a bigger bonus than what the simple proof is. My example just goes to show you how it does effect it. The other proof does even more to show you how it effects it but it will be so far over most people head that they will not believe it. It is a gradutated leval proof and a grad project some one was working on (not dealing with OSX and Windows. but the proof he was talking about and how it even works really well in the computer world in explain a lot of real world examples)
  15. baleensavage macrumors 6502a

    Aug 2, 2005
    On an island in Maine
    Hey wait a minute, wasn't there a Mac virus that was distributed on this site a few months ago ;) The media had a field day with that one, even though it only infected like 5 people's computers.

    Another reason that hasn't been mentioned is demographics. A large part of virus spreading comes from unsafe computer usage habits. If someone who is computer saavy gets an e-mail from some weird source with a .zip file in it, they will delete it, no questions asked. Someone who doesn't know much about computers will probably say "what's this" and open it, thus infecting their computer. This person is also not very likely to have a Mac. They probably went to Walmart and got an eMachine.

    I'm not saying all Windows users are computer-illiterate, because they're not, but not as many computer illiterate people have Macs. They're simply not as commercially accessible or as cheap. When Apple starts realeasing a "budget" computer, this may change.

    The one "virus" for OS X didn't get very far, because of this reason (of course it didnt help that it was poorly written). It was very quickly realized for what it was and taken down.
  16. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    All this debate....can't....resist.

    I just thought is was the security model and proven longevity of UNIX based OSes vs Windows. Also worth mentioning is the fact Apple is much quicker (for the most part) to patch known security holes in their OS.

    PS - Virus != Trojan Horse
  17. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    You're overstating the number of infections by about 5x. I actively tried to get it to infect my Mac, when I knew how easy it was to disinfect, but it failed miserably.

    I think people are missing the obvious - it's incredibly easy to write viruses for the Mac OS X and our Macs are ridden with them, but we don't know about it since they are so well hidden.

    I'm only joking about that last bit.
  18. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005
    Well you are right it is very easy to write a virus for OSX. Well it is very easy if you know how to do it. Problem is no one has figured out the how part.

    It easy to do anythign once you know how to do it. It figuring out how part that is hard.
  19. Laser47 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2004
    I think its because of UNIX. You would think that there would be some virus writers who are sick of hearing mac users tout it being virus proof that they would go out of their way to create one, and just think how much publicity they would get (isint that what virus writers want?)
    I bet even if macs had as much market share as windows, we still wouldn't see a virus written for the OS.
  20. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    UNIX does not make you invulnerable. I think all we have on our side is the fact that there are so few of us that use OS X. Windows is just a bigger and more profitable target.
  21. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    I would like to clarify some things in this thread. Not all hackers are virus writers, and not all virus writers are hackers.

    Virus writing is generally for bragging rights. Why do you think the author has his Screen Name appear somewhere in the code of the file? A lot of it is superiority between virus writing groups. About a year ago there was a fewed between to rival groups who started spreading viruses around one after the other.

    Hackers for the most part are looking for information, and manipulating that information to suit their own needs. Some may use a virus, but I don't believe they actaully write "malicious" code so much as they write trojans.

    As for the Macs have no viruses because of the smaller % of marketshare? That's bull ****. That's what that is. Windows is a program-by-numbers type of OS, one which the technology behind the built in web browser, internet explorer, is used as a hub for many other applications and processes, can be effected easily. Jsut as well the support for Legacy Code makes it harder to close the cracks that are wide open.

    With as much bloat as windows has, it's hard to find the cracks...

    With OS X, it's much harder because it's based on an OS that has been around for three decades in its current form. Unix. It's had time for growing pains, for virus outbreaks, and time to heal and secure it.

    Face it, Windows is something that should be left in the past, where it belongs as there is no way to improve upon it to actually make it more secure without bogging down the system with useless tools.
  22. imacintel macrumors 68000

    Mar 12, 2006
    There is like 1 virus for mac. Although, when you download programs, unlike Windows, it is not a direct executable. It is an application in the form of .app. Also, if it is so big that they need an installer, they do it in .pkg form which is not direct executable. .exec is executable, watch out for those.
  23. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    What? There are no viruses for Mac OS X. and .exe doesn't even work on OS X. There are malicious scripts, and security holes, but no actual viruses.
  24. imacintel macrumors 68000

    Mar 12, 2006

    Remember, That trojan horse? I think it got in through iChat...
  25. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    The Trojan was something the user had to have a high level of interactivity with, it did not replicate by itself, it could no "self-execute."

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