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View Full Version : Slightly OT: OSX and viruses



hrgiger
02-20-2006, 07:29 AM
I was hearing a good story today on NPR about some buzz in the mac world. Apparently, there was a new virus last week for OSX. Not particularly dangerous, but could be annoying for the user.

I just thought it was interesting. First, I assumed that because of the architecture of the mac OS(due mostly to information I've heard on these boards), that it made it less susceptible to viruses than the windows operating system. But as I came to understand it from the news, it's not necessarily that reason that prevents viruses from appearing on the mac OS, rather, it's the fact that the persons involved in writing the viruses don't bother because they know that 9 out of 10 computer users use a PC.

Perhaps because of the architecture, it is less prone to viruses but apparently not at all impossible or unlikely.

Skonk
02-20-2006, 08:01 AM
Mac's are just as easy to infect with virus' as pc's are but just as 9 out of 10 people use/own a pc, 9 out of 10 virus creators use pc's.

If you look at it as a percentage of the user base of each system the rate of infection is probably the same, the other issue is that mac users are less prepared to fight off the infections when they happen since they get lulled into a false sense of security.

lesford
02-20-2006, 09:36 AM
Actually, to get these "Viri" into the Mac you have to install them and enter the administrator password.
This is why Apple is calling them "Malicious software". How effective would the spread of Windows viri be if every infection had to be approved by an admin?... Not very!

Don't get me wrong; I use both platforms and curse both platforms, but there is no question in my mind that security is one of the strong suits of the Mac side. Windows does have other virtues.

Les Ford

mattclary
02-20-2006, 09:51 AM
Actually, to get these "Viri" into the Mac you have to install them and enter the administrator password.


Yep, one of the major shortcomings of Windows. I'd love to run OS X, if I could do it on hardware of my choosing.

Captain Obvious
02-20-2006, 10:43 AM
Like the "omg virus!!!1" thing called "Opener" that appeared a year or so ago, this isn't much of a threat. Okay, let me just open this file... What, Preview doesn't open, and it asks me for admin authentication? Sure, let me just type in my password...

I'm sure some users will fall for it, but I don't consider it much of a threat.

mrunion
02-20-2006, 11:26 AM
Begging pardon for being less informed than I should, but what virus can you get on Windows (current recommended versions like XP and 2000, not 95 or 98 junk) that also doesn't require the Admin password?

mattclary
02-20-2006, 11:29 AM
Begging pardon for being less informed than I should, but what virus can you get on Windows (current recommended versions like XP and 2000, not 95 or 98 junk) that also doesn't require the Admin password?

By default, a user usually is a member of the admin group when using Windows. If you set XP up in a enterprise environment, it doesn't happen by default, but at home, it usually does. Since you are logged in as an admin, programs pretty much have unfettered access.

Captain Obvious
02-20-2006, 11:47 AM
By default, a user usually is a member of the admin group when using Windows. If you set XP up in a enterprise environment, it doesn't happen by default, but at home, it usually does. Since you are logged in as an admin, programs pretty much have unfettered access.
You're an admin by default in Mac OS X as well. The difference is what the admin can do. In OS X, you need to authenticate whenever you want to do something even if you are an admin, quite unlike Windows. Admin in Windows is more like root in Mac OS X, but the root user in OS X is disabled by default, and only users who know what they are doing can figure out how to enable the root user.

loki74
02-20-2006, 09:47 PM
Mac's are just as easy to infect with virus' as pc's are but just as 9 out of 10 people use/own a pc, 9 out of 10 virus creators use pc's.

when was the last time you tried write a virus for Windows, and then tried writing the same one for OSX? Sorry if I come off as a little harsh, but as Captain Obvious pointed out, pretty much anything thats going to do a whole lot of damage will need to authenticate. Or if the attacker has physical access to the computer, then they could do some damage.

I do agree that the main reason we dont see a whole lot of viruses and evil programs is becaus we are a small target, not really worth it. While that is the main reason (from what I have read/seen/IMO) it is not the only reason--lets not deny the fact that one the whole, OSX is much more secure than XP. And I'll eat my words if by some miracle Vista has good security.

I would definately have to argue that OSX is tougher to damage.

lots
02-21-2006, 08:31 AM
No OS is perfect. Viruses can infiltrate a system without "special access" via exploits, and what not, found within the system (there's always at least one). All OSs have this kind of problem.

If OSX had a bigger market share, and thus a larger target, you could bet that virus writers (much like big software companies) would begin looking to Apple's PCs too add to thier current "user base".

Take a look here for some info on a sfari exploit.
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060221-6225.html