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Alwyn
05-15-2017, 03:23 AM
A journalist called Matt Ridley has written an article in today's London Times suggesting that the first ever virus called Elk Cloner infected Apple computers in 1981 via floppy discs.

One of the first things newbies are told when they ask about anti-virus software is that Apple products have never been hit by a virus. Hopefully that continues to be true about the latest O SX and iOS but it would be interesting to know more about the history.

harryb2448
05-15-2017, 05:58 AM
Not quite correct Alwyn as there was this and another couple of viruses for the Classic operating systems, but not since the introduction of OS X, its Unix based operating system and Apple's security updates.

Note the Leap A allegedly infecting OSX was actually a worm, which Sophos and others called a 'virus'. Why? increase sales of Mac Antivirus Software.


https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2010/11/24/apple-mac-malware-short-history/

Alwyn
05-15-2017, 09:48 AM
Thanks. I would quite like to know what the technical difference is between a worm and a virus. Presumably a worm doesn't multiply in the way a virus does but it would be interesting to know a bit more.

Randy B. Singer
05-15-2017, 09:49 AM
A journalist called Matt Ridley has written an article in today's London Times suggesting that the first ever virus called Elk Cloner infected Apple computers in 1981 via floppy discs.

One of the first things newbies are told when they ask about anti-virus software is that Apple products have never been hit by a virus. Hopefully that continues to be true about the latest O SX and iOS but it would be interesting to know more about the history.

Anyone who tells you that there were *never* any viruses for the Macintosh is badly mistaken.

One always has to take into account the terminology being used. "Virus" refers to self-propagating malware. Malware is simply malicious software. Macintosh users tend to use the term "virus" properly, but most everyone else uses the term "virus" synonymously with "malware."

However, even using the more limited definition of "virus", there have been examples of viruses for both the classic Mac OS (from over a dozen years ago), and even for the more modern OS X.

Prior to the advent of OS X, there were a number of pieces of malware for the Macintosh (i.e. for OS 7, 8, and 9). And, yes, the primary method of transmissions was via floppy disk, because that was the most common way that software was exchanged back then. I can name about 26 different pieces of malware for the Classic Mac OS.

See this very old article about viruses for the classic Mac OS:
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/computer-virus/macintosh-faq/
Section 7

I can name:

MacOS/nVIR
MacOS/INIT-M
MacOS/ZUC
MacOS/CDEF
MacOS/MBDF
MacOS/INIT29
MacOS/WDEF
MacOS/SevenDust
MacOS/Simpsons@MM
W97M/Antimarc@MM
MacOS/CODE252
MacOS/MDEF
MacOS/CODE32767
MacOS/INIT1984
MacOS/INIT9403
MacOS/Flag
MacHC/Merryxmas
MacOS/CODE9811
MacOS/Peace
MacOS/INIT17
MacOS/NVP
MacOS/T4
MacOS/ANTI
MacOS/CODE1
MacHC/ThreeTunes
MacOS/Frankie

None of these will run under OS X.

For OS X, there have been no actual "viruses" (using the more strict definition) released into the wild. But there have been "proof of concept" viruses created for OS X, so it is both possible and there are examples.

Macarena
https://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2006-110217-1331-99

Inqtana
https://www.cnet.com/news/osxinqtana-a-osxinqtana-b-worm-2-sophos-antivirus-software-generating-false-positives-wreaking-system-havoc/#!

If you use the less strict term for "virus", that is "all malware," there have been a number of examples for OS X, about 40 or so. Nothing like the well over a million that exist for Windows. See:

http://www.reedcorner.net/mmg-catalog/

If you go through that list, you will find that Apple has inoculated the MacOS against just about everything that was ever any kind of actual threat.

If you are talking about iOS, it is an entirely different matter. The only source for software for iOS is Apple's App Store. All software in the App Store has to be vetted by Apple to get there. E-mail programs for iOS don't run downloaded software. So, there are no vectors for infection for devices running iOS. There have been a few cases of infected software somehow making its way through Apple's vetting process, but Apple has picked them up very quickly afterwards.

By and large malware on Apple products is nothing more than something to talk about in an academic fashion. People who tell you that "the Macintosh is invulnerable to viruses" or that there "have never been any viruses for the Macintosh" are, strictly speaking, wrong. But currently there is no malware in the wild that Macintosh users have to be particularly concerned about, and for now third party anti-virus software tends to be more trouble than it's worth.

There almost certainly will be new malware for the Macintosh in the future, but it's unlikely that Apple will suddenly stop patching the Macintosh against such malware when it arises. New Macintosh malware show up at about the rate of four or five new examples every year. New Windows malware show up at the rate of somewhere around 95,000 new examples EVERY DAY!
http://www.pcworld.com/article/221780/five_big_security_threats_for_two_thousand_eleven. html
Windows malware is something Windows users are justifiably paranoid about. Macintosh malware isn't something that Macintosh users need to be particularly concerned about.

Randy B. Singer
05-15-2017, 10:00 AM
If you want to know more about Macintosh malware, here are some good resources:

Check out his video:

Do Macs Need Anti-Virus Software?
http://macmost.com/do-macs-need-antivirus.html

also:

How To Protect Your Mac From Malware
http://macmost.com/how-to-protect-your-mac-from-malware.html

If you want a more comprehensive source, here are a FREE e-book on Macintosh security and a FREE video tutorial on the subject!

The Practical Guide To Mac Security (free e-book)
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-practical-guide-to-mac-security/id1193415597?mt=11

The Practical Guide to Mac Security (free, and highly rated by viewers, online course)
http://macmost.com/online-course-the-practical-guide-to-mac-security.html
https://www.udemy.com/mac-security/?couponCode=MACMOST1