Windows-Virus-safe Pendrive that works on the Mac = Mission Impossible??

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by saotomefirst, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. saotomefirst macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2012
    Rio de Janeiro
    Hi there MacRumors Community!

    First of all, I'm relatively new to the Mac world - only been a couple months since I own a MacBook Pro - so I'm sorry if this seems like a dumb question.

    Now, my problem is this simple: I have a pendrive I protected against virus threats following instructions that can be widely found on the web. Among these instructions is to switch the pendrive's file system to NTFS, which, to my surprise, is not fully supported in the Mac environment. I can read files, but not write them... At least not without paying for a 3rd part application to do it for me... :(

    If I reformat the disk to FAT32 it'll work on both Mac and Windows, but it'll also make my disk vulnerable to Windows viruses - which would be a problem to my home desktops...

    Is there a Mac version for protecting a pendrive in the Windows world?

    Thanks for your thoughts

    P.S. I'm currently using Mountain Lion on my MacBook Pro and Windows XP and 7 in my home desktops.
  2. Candunc macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2012
    Most virus' can't jump drives without user interaction, and an Anti-Virus on your PC would protect it, say Microsoft Security Essentials.
  3. saotomefirst thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2012
    Rio de Janeiro
    Indeed, but then I'm counting on the others to prevent spreading viruses - ok I'm relatively safe at home but I don't use my pendrive just between my computers. The reason why I protected my pendrive's root was to protect it while at other's computers, so my disk doesn't happen to infect other machines.
  4. Stooby Mcdoobie macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    As far as I know, there is no file system that will 'protect' you from malicious files. Malware can be present on HFS+, NTFS, FAT, etc. That's where your AV programs come in handy. You could get a scanner for OS X (ClamXav is a good one) to occasionally scan your Mac for files that may be harmful to your Windows machines, but as long as your Windows machines are protected and have up to date definitions, you should be fine.
  5. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    What you do is format your USB Stick to NTFS, create a folder in the root directory of the USB Drive, then write protect the root directory so that you can't write files to the root directory anymore.

    All files / directories have to then be put into the folder you created.

    The idea behind it being that it stops malware etc from installing itself to the root directory so can use the Autorun feature to load when you plug into a machine. Currently only works when in the root directory, so you effectively stop people writing to the root directory.

    However yes it won't stop you loading a virus laden file into the Folder that was created already. No File system will do that. For that you should be running AV Software.

    Fat32 doesn't allow you to set the root directory to effectively be write protected, so you format to NTFS.

    Theres a lot to be said for disabling Autorun feature in Windows to stop it running anyway.

    Apparently allows Write Access to NTFS files to Mountain Lion.
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Drive formats don't provide malware protection, as malware can exist on any drive format. To write to NTFS from Mac OS X, use Paragon. Windows programs, including malware, cannot run on Mac OS X, so your Mac cannot be infected by Windows malware.

    Macs are not immune to malware, but no true viruses exist in the wild that can run on Mac OS X, and there never have been any since it was released over 10 years ago. The only malware in the wild that can affect Mac OS X is a handful of trojans, which can be easily avoided by practicing safe computing (see below). Also, Mac OS X 10.6 and later versions have anti-malware protection built in, further reducing the need for 3rd party antivirus apps.
    1. Make sure your built-in Mac firewall is enabled in System Preferences > Security > Firewall

    2. Uncheck "Open "safe" files after downloading" in Safari > Preferences > General

    3. Disable Java in your browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox). This will protect you from malware that exploits Java in your browser, including the recent Flashback trojan. Leave Java disabled until you visit a trusted site that requires it, then re-enable only for the duration of your visit to that site. (This is not to be confused with JavaScript, which you should leave enabled.)

    4. Change your DNS servers to OpenDNS servers by reading this.

    5. Be careful to only install software from trusted, reputable sites. Never install pirated software. If you're not sure about an app, ask in this forum before installing.

    6. Never let someone else have access to install anything on your Mac.

    7. Don't open files that you receive from unknown or untrusted sources.

    8. For added security, make sure all network, email, financial and other important passwords are long and complex, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

    9. Always keep your Mac and application software updated. Use Software Update for your Mac software. For other software, it's safer to get updates from the developer's site or from the menu item "Check for updates", rather than installing from any notification window that pops up while you're surfing the web.
    That's all you need to do to keep your Mac completely free of any Mac OS X malware that has ever been released into the wild. While you may elect to use it, 3rd party antivirus software is not required to keep your Mac malware-free.
  7. saotomefirst thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2012
    Rio de Janeiro
    Precisely what I did! And not just that, auto-install malware won't be able to replicate to the root folder either, therefore making my AV stop screaming on me whenever I plug in my pen drives to my PCs.

    Indeed, but that's not my main concern. And about Paragon, as I said in the beginning, I have to pay for it to use it on the Mac... And thanks for the safety tips :D

    Yes, as far as I know malwares are file system independent, and Macs aren't a safe environment because of the file system it uses, but because of other system related measures.

    Guys, my main concern are not the computers I have at home, but the dozens of computers I plug my pendrive to, both at work and at college. I do have security measures like disabling autorun on my Windows PCs. However, I can't guarantee safety outside my home. That's why I had my pen drive formatted like mcnallym described, and it was working fine until I got a Mac.

    Now I just want to know if there's a similar solution that protects my disk outside my home environment while still working with my new Mac.

    If if comes to it, I can transfer files from/to my Mac through my network, so I guess I could just get used to not having a pen drive directly connected to my Mac...
  8. Stooby Mcdoobie macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    I'm still not 100% sure what you're asking. If your Windows computers are protected, any malware you pick up from a computer outside your network should be found by the AV program when you plug the drive into your computer. If you're worried about infecting computers outside your network, don't; it's that organization's responsibility to make sure its computers are protected (and they probably are, especially the university).
  9. saotomefirst thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2012
    Rio de Janeiro
    "I'm sure on some planet your style is impressive, but your weak link is: this is EARTH". - Kung Pow :p

    My work is relatively safe - most computers run Linux. In fact, my college's computers are my biggest concern. The network is so weakly protected, anyone can log in to the system using a public 'master' user account. From time to time the network goes offline because of some smart guy messing up with it...

    In this network I put my pen drive almost every day, and normally I plug it into a few friends' laptops as well to share files before having a chance to go home and clean it. In this situation it's very easy to end up infecting everyone.

    This is the reason I protected my disk in the first place: to protect others when they don't. I just wish I could keep on doing this AND have my disk working on my Mac.:( This is what I really want.
  10. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    The solution was already given:
    Install one of the Mac OS extensions that writes to NTFS.

    Your entire protection plan relies on NTFS's file-system capabilities. Therefore it requires reading and writing NTFS. If one of the target platforms for the pen-drive doesn't support NTFS natively, it's your responsibility to accomodate that. Otherwise you change to a file-system that has similar capabilities on all the target platforms. Your obstacle seems to be price, rather than something technical like the absence of drivers for a particular file-system.

    What you really seem to want is to have this capability without having to pay for it. It's not "Mission: Impossible", it's just "Mission: Pay For It".
  11. saotomefirst thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2012
    Rio de Janeiro
    Agreed. I am the exception in my own rule, so I should pay for it. I was just hoping that there was a way to do this without having to do so.

    Thanks everyone for your advices. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough in the beginning of the post :(

    That said, is there a more 'native' solution than having to open an application just to view my pen drive? I mean something that integrates with Finder so that it at least seems that I'm not using a special program at all?

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