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Will 2011 signal a Mac virus onslaught? Not so fast

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 12:55 PM

Post your comments for Will 2011 signal a Mac virus onslaught? Not so fast here
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#2 User is offline   davebarnes 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 01:43 PM

A very good article.

I had no idea that my MacBook could raid the refrigerator. Precautionary measures will be implemented.
Dave Barnes
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#3 User is offline   deemery 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 02:03 PM

When thinking about adding antivirus to a Mac, I go back to the FDA requirements on drugs: Prove BOTH "safe" and "effective". My experience with antivirus apps in OS 9 days was generally pretty bad, particularly from the "safe" perspective, they either crashed or substantially slowed down the machine.

So I'm looking for (a) a vulnerability, (B) an effective countermeasure that is © safe (won't do more harm than good.
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#4 User is offline   JeffBiesiadecki 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 02:11 PM

Good article that also addresses the denialist attitude of many Mac users thinking that OS X hasn't had issues strictly due to it being "more secure than Windows". It is not currently more secure than Windows. It is safer than Windows.
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#5 User is offline   VeryOldMacGuy 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 02:21 PM

I DO have a concern about "Flash Cookies." If a Flash cookie can be secretly buried on a computer (any kind) it could just as easily be some other document, app or plain old malware, no? Sure, I'm using FF Better Privacy, but that just removes the LSOs.
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#6 User is offline   Atma 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 03:17 PM

FDA requirements notwithstanding, if we relied on official FDA approvals for our digital health, our computers would be as sick as the general public that blindly trusts every drug the FDA approves. Seems like every other month we hear of some major drug being taken off the market after causing havoc, and those are only the worst and most well known drugs. The statistic of daily deaths in USA for PROPERLY prescribed and taken drugs is astoundingly high, and those that survive are way higher:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/nc7mgu

Digital health can't and shouldn't put up with that kind of tradeoff. It would be like the public paying taxes for bureaucratic "security officials" to hold security software companies to high standards while those officials are also being paid and pressured by those same companies to approve their hugely profitable software, no matter how badly it impacts overall computer performance or how marginally effective it is.

From the statistics and many horror stories about allopathic drugs I've heard from actual people's experiences, I've concluded it is far cheaper and more beneficial to just practice health building measures instead. Metaphorically, for Macs that means keep some good antivirus running and don't do anything stupid to invite infection. There have been only about 28 trojans found targeting Mac OS X, and 0 viruses. If you multiply that times a hypothetical explosive growth rate of, say 10, it is still absolutely tiny compared to the Windows onslaught now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So the old adage is true: an Apple today keeps the hackers at bay. Tomorrow won't be that much different.
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#7 User is offline   ezylstra 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 03:50 PM

View PostAtma, on 30 December 2010 - 03:17 PM, said:

I've concluded it is far cheaper and more beneficial to just practice health building measures instead. Metaphorically, for Macs that means keep some good antivirus running and don't do anything stupid to invite infection.


So you weren't around for the multiple instances in the past 10 years where Macs running anti-virus had system critical files deleted because they were identified as infections? More damage has been done by AV on OS X than protection provided.
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#8 User is offline   Jim 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:07 PM

View PostAtma, on 30 December 2010 - 03:17 PM, said:

FDA requirements notwithstanding, if we relied on official FDA approvals for our digital health, our computers would be as sick as the general public that blindly trusts every drug the FDA approves. Seems like every other month we hear of some major drug being taken off the market after causing havoc, and those are only the worst and most well known drugs. The statistic of daily deaths in USA for PROPERLY prescribed and taken drugs is astoundingly high, and those that survive are way higher:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/nc7mgu

Digital health can't and shouldn't put up with that kind of tradeoff. It would be like the public paying taxes for bureaucratic "security officials" to hold security software companies to high standards while those officials are also being paid and pressured by those same companies to approve their hugely profitable software, no matter how badly it impacts overall computer performance or how marginally effective it is.

From the statistics and many horror stories about allopathic drugs I've heard from actual people's experiences, I've concluded it is far cheaper and more beneficial to just practice health building measures instead. Metaphorically, for Macs that means keep some good antivirus running and don't do anything stupid to invite infection. There have been only about 28 trojans found targeting Mac OS X, and 0 viruses. If you multiply that times a hypothetical explosive growth rate of, say 10, it is still absolutely tiny compared to the Windows onslaught now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So the old adage is true: an Apple today keeps the hackers at bay. Tomorrow won't be that much different.

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#9 User is offline   Jim 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:17 PM

View PostJim, on 30 December 2010 - 04:07 PM, said:

View PostAtma, on 30 December 2010 - 03:17 PM, said:

FDA requirements notwithstanding, if we relied on official FDA approvals for our digital health, our computers would be as sick as the general public that blindly trusts every drug the FDA approves. Seems like every other month we hear of some major drug being taken off the market after causing havoc, and those are only the worst and most well known drugs. The statistic of daily deaths in USA for PROPERLY prescribed and taken drugs is astoundingly high, and those that survive are way higher:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/nc7mgu

Digital health can't and shouldn't put up with that kind of tradeoff. It would be like the public paying taxes for bureaucratic "security officials" to hold security software companies to high standards while those officials are also being paid and pressured by those same companies to approve their hugely profitable software, no matter how badly it impacts overall computer performance or how marginally effective it is.

From the statistics and many horror stories about allopathic drugs I've heard from actual people's experiences, I've concluded it is far cheaper and more beneficial to just practice health building measures instead. Metaphorically, for Macs that means keep some good antivirus running and don't do anything stupid to invite infection. There have been only about 28 trojans found targeting Mac OS X, and 0 viruses. If you multiply that times a hypothetical explosive growth rate of, say 10, it is still absolutely tiny compared to the Windows onslaught now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So the old adage is true: an Apple today keeps the hackers at bay. Tomorrow won't be that much different.




Atma, with all due respect, I do not agree that there have been 0 viruses for Mac. I have been using Mac for 18 years and in 1998 my machine got the "Graphics Accelerator"/"SevenDust"/"666" virus. It caused havoc with my Mac and I took it to 3 different Mac places before I could find someone that was smart enough to detect the problem and fix it.
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#10 User is offline   lwdesign 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:18 PM

Computer industry "analysts" and writers for Windows publications are forever chastising Mac users as people who are stupid. We're hipsters who pay too much for a computer so we can look cool. We're ignorant and uppity about the Mac's apparent invulnerability to malware and viruses, and one day soon we'll be smacked in our smug faces WHEN THE VIRUSES FINALLY ATTACK. It'll be any moment now, honest!

Pfft! Let me count the actual viruses and malware exploits I've had in 10 years of OS X with my completely unprotected Mac. Duh: NONE!

OK, let's go back to the good old pre-OS X days. I got my first Mac in 1989 running OS 6. I ran Macs continuously through OS 7, 8 and 9 until 2001 when I switched to OS X and had exactly ONE virus back in 1992 that I was able to eradicate with ease. This makes 20 years of day in and day out heavy use for a total of one bit of malware. Ask me how much I'm concerned about my Mac's invulnerability.
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#11 User is offline   elroth 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 06:44 PM

Your Mac will only raid your refridgerator if it's taking Ambien:

http://www.nytimes.c...f=stephaniesaul
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#12 User is offline   KPOM 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 07:57 PM

View Postelroth, on 30 December 2010 - 06:44 PM, said:

Your Mac will only raid your refridgerator if it's taking Ambien:

http://www.nytimes.c...f=stephaniesaul


Will the next Apple ad have one of those disclaimers that they put on prescription drug ads? :)


Seriously, though, this is a pretty good article. True "viruses" are rare on Unix and OS X in particular because of the prompts and permissions required to do system-level functions, but malware certainly is present. Plus, lots of schemes like phishing are platform-independent. Common sense is the best weapon against most forms of malware, on Windows as well as the Mac.
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#13 User is offline   LancashireWitch 

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  Posted 30 December 2010 - 08:18 PM

I would have thought mobile devices are a more attractive target. One day Android phones will outnumber computers running Mac OS X, for example.
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#14 User is offline   billthecat 

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:07 PM

View PostJim, on 30 December 2010 - 04:17 PM, said:

View PostJim, on 30 December 2010 - 04:07 PM, said:

View PostAtma, on 30 December 2010 - 03:17 PM, said:

FDA requirements notwithstanding, if we relied on official FDA approvals for our digital health, our computers would be as sick as the general public that blindly trusts every drug the FDA approves. Seems like every other month we hear of some major drug being taken off the market after causing havoc, and those are only the worst and most well known drugs. The statistic of daily deaths in USA for PROPERLY prescribed and taken drugs is astoundingly high, and those that survive are way higher:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/nc7mgu

Digital health can't and shouldn't put up with that kind of tradeoff. It would be like the public paying taxes for bureaucratic "security officials" to hold security software companies to high standards while those officials are also being paid and pressured by those same companies to approve their hugely profitable software, no matter how badly it impacts overall computer performance or how marginally effective it is.

From the statistics and many horror stories about allopathic drugs I've heard from actual people's experiences, I've concluded it is far cheaper and more beneficial to just practice health building measures instead. Metaphorically, for Macs that means keep some good antivirus running and don't do anything stupid to invite infection. There have been only about 28 trojans found targeting Mac OS X, and 0 viruses. If you multiply that times a hypothetical explosive growth rate of, say 10, it is still absolutely tiny compared to the Windows onslaught now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So the old adage is true: an Apple today keeps the hackers at bay. Tomorrow won't be that much different.




Atma, with all due respect, I do not agree that there have been 0 viruses for Mac. I have been using Mac for 18 years and in 1998 my machine got the "Graphics Accelerator"/"SevenDust"/"666" virus. It caused havoc with my Mac and I took it to 3 different Mac places before I could find someone that was smart enough to detect the problem and fix it.


Well, arguably 666 was a trojan, because it was masquerading as accelerating PPC programs. Still not fun though. But when you look at the history of Mac viruses (and they're using that term broadly), it's a far cry from the thousands suffered by Windows users. I'll take one every couple of years over thousands every year. And 666 was under System 7 which, of course, has no connection whatsoever to the security model of OS X.

As far as I know, everything so far under OS X has required the user to affirmatively (if unknowingly) run the infection. There isn't really anything that can be done to prevent a user from wiping out their own files.

It may not last forever (shrug) but I have a lot more confidence using a Mac as compared to Windows.
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