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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Viruses on a Mac?


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c1ph3rtxt

 
Member Since: Sep 23, 2009
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Is it possible for a Mac user to get a virus/spyware/adware on their system? I am running a pure Mac without any products whatsoever from a windows system.

If no, how does this work? I have heard in my *nix classes in college that there is no possible way for a virus to infect the system.

"The Question is not how far. The question is, Do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith to go as far as needed?"
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Snakedoctor

 
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Hi c1ph3rtxt,

I had the very same question over the last few days but from doing research on this forum, I found that the answer is No - Mac's will not suffer from Virues...

The Official Mac AntiVirus and Firewall FAQ

There is a reply on page 23 which summed up the entire issue....

Happy mac-ing
SD
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c1ph3rtxt

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakedoctor View Post

The Official Mac AntiVirus and Firewall FAQ

There is a reply on page 23 which summed up the entire issue....
I agree, that page was very helpful and explains the answer that "No" you can't get a virus, and I thank you for your response and the link.

However, a better questions is Why Not? Is it because there is no registry in a non-windows system that malware or spyware can infect? Is it because there's not any filetypes such as a DLL that a virus (such as a Trojan) can attatch itself to? This probably has to do with something at the file/directory level or byte level of the hard drive. That is the level I will be learning about in advanced classes.

Inquiring minds always want to know more.

"The Question is not how far. The question is, Do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith to go as far as needed?"
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chas_m

 
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Reasons Macs Don't Get Viruses:

1. UNIX core. This is the main reason.
2. Root-level sandboxing of apps from one another.
3. User is not running as root
4. User permission required for installation of any system-altering programs
5. Programs cannot gain admin or root status without user's permission

The five reasons above are actually all tied to the #1 reason -- the UNIX core.

6. Apple is very vigilant about threats and relatively quick (for a large corporation) at issuing fixes.

7. Strong user community acts as a line of defense. When a "porn codec" turned out to be malware, the community spread the warning far and wide, so it never had much chance to sucker dumb users, couldn't spread as Win viruses do, etc.

8. Most viruses are written explicitly to take advantage of weaknesses in Windows. Mac OS X isn't Windows, thus doesn't have those weaknesses, and (again see #1) doesn't have many serious weaknesses of its own.

In addition, there are the reasons you mention.

For this and other reasons, not only have we gone 10 years without a virus, I don't see any way for viruses to become threats to the Mac platform in the foreseeable future. OS X isn't impervious to all forms of security weakness, but is robust enough to make such ventures very difficult to be effective or to spread, thus killing the entire reasons viruses exist in the first place.
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6string

 
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Really well outlined Chas.
I hope that you post this in The Official Mac AntiVirus and Firewall FAQ if you haven't already!

Regards
Kane
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DaFlake

 
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Well said, but never say never.... I suspect at some point it will happen but most attacks are going to be at the easier more prolific target which happens to be Windows at this point. Until then, just sit back and relax.
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c1ph3rtxt

 
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Thank you Chas for the outline, it serves not only as an answer to the question but as a reference to other topics to read about. Very well explained and my question is answered completely.

"The Question is not how far. The question is, Do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith to go as far as needed?"
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McBie

 
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Hmmmm..... The discussion is always about virusses and trojans and that there aren't any for OS X and that OS X is built on Unix and ............
While all of this is true, people should talk about malware instead ... not have a debate on semantics ( virus vs. trojans etc .... )

What about PDF files ( who can execute code and external apps. by design, not by vulnerability )
What about the fine pieces of code hidden inside a picture ?
Do you need root privileges to view pictures and read PDF's ......NO
Does viewing a picture or reading PDF's install anything ( hence ask for your password ) ...... NO
Can it do damage .... YES

How many layers have been built on top of Unix to make it OS X ?
Off course the core Unix system will reduce the possibiity of malware to a great extent, but that discussion is too narrow.

Am only trying to point out that computer users should not be blinded by the words that there are no viri for OS X and only a couple of trojans.
Malware is so much more.

Every year, more people are killed by pigs than by sharks .... this makes you wonder if people are focussing on the right risks.

This is only my 2 cents.

Cheers ... McBie

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The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude towards the problem. You understand ?
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6string

 
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Good 2cents worth indeed.
If I knew all the answers, yet alone any to that, I would happily give my input, but whatever it is in OS X that has kept me safe, other than my own user sensibility, I am grateful.
Malware is a very broad term, and is general referred to something that is dependant on user habits, but the question is always about viruses for Mac.
I have a habit of not opening forwarded emails, yet alone opening links just based on a gut feeling, and am very cautious about what I download, etc..... I don't know if this is what's kept my Macs clean over the years, but then again, I don't know if when I am sending anything to a Windows user, if there is anything not kosher being sent with it.
I read back on what I wrote and wonder if there's any relevance in what I have written, by I am clicking that "post quick reply" tab anyway! LOL
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Snakedoctor

 
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2 cents.... More like 2 dollars

It is always great to see invaluable input from users who have different outlooks and take son the whole "Mac vs Malware" scene... As DaFlake says - Never say never but in the meantime I'm sure there are far more pressing matters than worrying about Malware / Viri / Trojans etc... so it's time to sit back and enjoy the delight that is a Mac

Sláinte
SD
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McBie

 
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My favorite country is Ireland, but that aside ....

There will probably be as many different opinions as there are people and that is only good .... as long as we all use our brains

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakedoctor View Post
... so it's time to sit back and enjoy the delight that is a Mac
Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakedoctor View Post

Sláinte

God Bless !

Cheers ... McBie

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osxx

 
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Its like a friend told me that has been using Mac's since day one if it happens there will
be news of it everywhere local,mags,internet forums and newspapers it will be headline
news.
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DarkestRitual

 
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McBie, good points, but let me also point out that in my 8 years on OS X and many more before than on classic OSes, I did a lot of illegal and sketchy stuff. You know how many viri I ever had? Or how often my system got out of whack?

Never once, until I blew my logic board on my PowerMac G5. My old grape 333MHz iMac also was never the same after our attempt to install Jaguar 10.2. Woops!
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