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Are iMac's really Virus safe?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by BilltheCat, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. BilltheCat

    BilltheCat Quieter Cat Millennium Member

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    Someone said that pc's need to continually fight spyware, virii, trojans, worms, Denial attacks, etc; but Apples don't.

    Can this be true? and why?
     
  2. Washington D.C.

    Washington D.C.

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    It's true.For a couple of reasons.First Mac's make up less than 5% of the personal computers.The structure of the operating system doesn't really allow a virus any place to hide or make changes without being noticed,at least not easily.The new Mac's can also run Windows but usually there's no reason unless you need certain Windows programs for something special.For general home use of a PC the Mac operating system should cover just about everything.
     

  3. Glock Bob

    Glock Bob Snack Attack!!!

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    What makes Macs so much safer is the fact that nobody uses them. If someone wanted to rob a bank which do you think they'd choose, First National Bank of All National Banks Ever Put Together, or Bubba's Live Bait, Grocery, and Lending? The first, of course, since it would be more lucrative and they could make a huge haul in one robbery. PCs and Macs are the same way. There are so many PCs running Windows that it makes much more sense to create viruses for them and let them spread themselves. And, since most computer-illiterate people just go out and buy any old computer that they can afford, chances are greater they will get Windows. As such, there is a greater chance of a virus finding unsecured personal info on a PC than on a Mac. Couple that fact with Windows' daily security flaws and you can see why Windows PCs are thought to be more virus-prone.

    Also, Mac OS is based on UNIX, which is arguably THE most stable OS ever made. Viruses can easily shake Windows, but it's harder with Mac OS. Linux, which is essentially an offshoot of UNIX, is gaining more popularity among the PC crowd. It is similar to Mac OS as far as viruses are concerned. There are less of them (at least for PCs, servers are another matter) and are much more virus-resistant than Windows PCs.
     
  4. geneinnc

    geneinnc

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    go check ZDNETS site. I get all their security bulletins. Mac no longer is untouchable according to them
     
  5. chrismartin

    chrismartin

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    They are less prone to viruses for the reasons mentioned above. The spyware and email propagation viruses need to target the most machines to work (SPAM = $'s unfortunately)

    Email viruses don't work because most target outlook bugs and such. Thunderbird and Mail.app just work different and don't have the same hooks into the OS as windows (Just like if you used Thunderbird on Windows instead of lookout)

    MS Word/Excel viruses can infect word/excel files on the Mac just like they do windows. 99.999% of the time they can't really do anything but infect the files, the VBScripts can't run like they do on windows to send email, delete files, etc. But you can transmit those viruses to windows machines that can cause damage.

    Web worms and stuff always infect IE for windows and are quickly taken care of with patches and by taking down the sites. Even the myspace worms that are cropping up get killed off pretty quick. I choose to go to known sites and hate MySpace, but that's me :)

    Doesn't really matter one way or the other, just download ClamAV for Mac OS X (open source virus scanning) or one of the standard AV packages (Virex, Nortons, Computer Associates)

    Also, DoS attacks can affect everything. Just have a hardware firewall in front of everything. It won't keep your internet connection from bogging down, but at least it won't mess directly with your computers.

    Where I work, we have around 14,000 macs (Yes, that's a lot :) We use Computer Associates for our virus scanning needs as well as a good email virus scanner. We still get machines that get infected, but they are ALWAYS word macro viruses and are cleaned up easily.
     
  6. malkore

    malkore

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    Actually, its not true, because new virus architecture is pointing to the CPU, not the OS.

    so all those Mac's with Intel CPU's are going to be vulnerable to the same CPU based virii that Windows would be vulnerable to.
     
  7. hwyhobo

    hwyhobo

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    Exactly. Most of the so-called "viruses" on Windows are just dumb VB scripts aimed at inexperienced and unsuspecting users who execute them and cause all kinds of damage. If companies threw Outlook into the trash bin(1), that alone would eliminate a majority of the recent "virus" outbreaks.

    (1) Alternative approach would be to educate the users, but that is a very expensive solution.
     
  8. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

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    This notion that Macs are less virus prone simply because they aren't attacked as much due to their relative scarcity is pure BS. I'm SO sick of hearing that utter tripe.

    I'm sort of amazed that the same people here posting that then went on to accurately reveal the real reason: the BSD foundation of MacOS X.

    Hwyhobo is exactly right 99% of all these "viruses" are simply VB scripts that use the facilities Microsoft builds in to every one of it's products. MS does that so THEY can have every integrated and to have a simple email or web page be able to do anything on your computer. Just turns out that security wasn't so high on their list of priorities.

    -Stooxie
     
  9. woettinger

    woettinger King Nothing

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    Do you have examples of cpu based virii, that ignore the OS?
     
  10. Darkmage

    Darkmage

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    At the moment, this type of virus is in proof-of-concept mode. There is nothing in the wild that uses these techniques.

    On the other hand, what is happening more and more is that virii are not depending on the hooks in Microsoft Office to spread. The security updates to the office family have caused the writers to change tactics. There are several techniques, and here are just a couple quick examples:

    There are several virii that contain their own mail server. While it may or may not raid your contacts list, some virii will download a list of email targets from a compromised web site and start mailing stuff out from your computer without your knowledge. They messages won't look like they come from you and will not go to anyone you know. It will just use your computer to send them.

    Other virii will set up a web server on a non-standard port on your computer and hide everything deep in your hard disk. It will then be used to host extremely questionable (and in almost every country, illegal) pornography. A beacon to a compromised web site tells the hacker your IP address and configures a redirect script to send people who look for that kind of crap to surf on in to your computer.

    The nasty stuff will encrypt your hard drive and leave one file in an obvious place that will tell you how to pay off the hacker. In return for the ransom, you receive the encryption key to get your files back.

    This is the typical crap that is out there in the wild right now. How they get in to your system... that's a long and complex debate. Are Macs safer because people don't write virii for them? Yes. Are Macs inherently safer? Yes. Are Macs completely safe? No. Are there virii for Macs? Yes.

    How do most computers get infected? Because someone opens up an attatched executable file that they get in an email. By far that is how most of these are spread. With the right talent, if I can get you to open up an executable file on your Mac I can probably own your system just as hard as any Windows box. (note: this is with the right talent. I do not have this talent.)
     
  11. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

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    You're absolutely right, but that's also a given. If you can convince someone to launch your Trojan horse than you can do anything you want.

    -Stooxie
     
  12. Deanster

    Deanster Cheese? CLM Millennium Member

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    Nothing is perfectly 'safe', and the Mac community does itself a disservice by claiming it is.

    However, there are a grand sum total of either one or two (depending on how you count) virii/worms/Trojan Horses in the wild that are Mac-oriented. They are so rare and unusual that I've never even heard of someone coming across them. I have 7 macs between home and office, and don't run a virus-checker or add'l security software on any of them. Our OSX server runs ClamAV on incoming e-mail, and while it kills dozens and dozens of inbound e-mail virii each day, it's never come across one of the Mac vesions.

    More or less the same story regarding all forms of malware, internet attacks, script attacks, etc. They exist in theory or proof-of-concept for the Mac, but are vanishingly rare in the field.

    OTOH, there are hundreds of thousands of threats on the Windows side, and I encounter them daily. All our Windows machines are behind both our corporate firewall and their own onboard firewalls (also true for the Macs), and run both McAfee Security Suite and SpySweeper full time. The machines autosweep daily, and I run a comprehansive sweep once a week or so. It's rare that I don't find something that has installed itself on at least one machine, despite all the security. I just cleaned a rootkit and Trojan Horse combo off a machine - the malicious software had shut down McAfee, and hidden itself from SpySweeper's standard scan. Only found with the comprehensive sweep. For 10 Windows machines, we average a piece of malware removed every week, about 30 attempted installs blocked by the software every week, a serious infection each quarter, and a machine infected so badly I need to wipe the disk annually (better now that we use SpySweeper - fingers crossed).

    I have NEVER found any form of infection or successful assault on the Macs in five years. I did notice that someone was attempting logins on an open SSH port, but in 4000 attempts, didn't get anywhere - since I had it key pair locked, they couldn't have gotten anywhere, even with a root password.

    In any case - Macs aren't virus 'safe', they just live in a vastly better neighborhood, and have state-of-the-art security. Windows machines live in downtown Detroit, and have no doors, Macs live in a glossy walled community in suburbia, with aggressive guard dogs. Bad things CAN happen there, but it's vanishingly rare.
     
  13. neeko

    neeko

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    windows is less safe simply because the normal user runs as root. osx normal user does not.
     
  14. Genso

    Genso Millennium Member

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