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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Why no viruses?


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_Claymore_

 
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Hey all,
I'm a networking student and I'm getting into my security classes now, which naturally are all about Windows. So, I'm genuinely interested in the reason why there are no viruses for the Mac? Is it because there are more Windows users, or that Windows is easier to exploit? Or is it because of excellent construction of the Mac OS? I don't expect a huge long answer or anything here, but could someone maybe point me to an article or fountain of information somewhere on this topic that has technical explanations for it?

Thanks!

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swimm3r137

 
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Its really not very complicated. 1. The majority of users use PC, thus they put more time into creating viruses for that OS. 2. Mac OS is constructed better- but this doesn't mean it's impenetrable. Anyone who's computer literate can just as easily put a virus on a mac as a pc.
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McYukon

 
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Hang on a bit there, a virus is something that spreads to other computers on it's own with no user interaction required.
Fore now there is no such thing for Mac.

Trojans on the other hand do exist for Mac, these get installed by you when you install something and it's hiding in the app/installer and you don't know about it. These can almost always be found in pirated software/porn codecs.
These can be avoided by simply not installing anything that you don't trust 100%.

But it is true that the Mac has a somewhat smaller user base than Windows, thus it isn't worth a hackers time to write anything.

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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Windows is mainstream and Mac is indie.

死神はリンゴしか食べない。
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swimm3r137

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McYukon View Post
Hang on a bit there, a virus is something that spreads to other computers on it's own with no user interaction required.
Fore now there is no such thing for Mac.

Trojans on the other hand do exist for Mac, these get installed by you when you install something and it's hiding in the app/installer and you don't know about it. These can almost always be found in pirated software/porn codecs.
These can be avoided by simply not installing anything that you don't trust 100%.

But it is true that the Mac has a somewhat smaller user base than Windows, thus it isn't worth a hackers time to write anything.
I meant "trojan"
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baggss

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimsonRequiem View Post
Windows is mainstream and Mac is indie.
At one time I would have agreed, not any more.


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Lifeisabeach

 
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The idea that OS X having a lower user base means it's not worth a hacker's time is nonsense. Cracking OS X should be the holy grail for any virus writer, if only for the notoriety it would bring. Yes, a couple trojans are known to exist, but they pose as legitimate software on piracy websites, and piracy just isn't as rampant with Mac software as it is with Windows software. I also have trouble believing that the people who write malware to steal credit card and bank information have no interest in Macs. With Macs perceived as being an overpriced toy for people with money to blow, and Mac users seen as being naive when it comes to security, they should be very hot targets for exploitation. Yet it continues to fail to happen, even as OS X's market share is on the rise.


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I have another thought to add about why I think piracy is more rampant with Windows users than Mac users. First, you have to understand the mentality of Windows users, or perhaps better said… critics of Mac users. They go for cheap* Windows systems because they see no value in spending more than the absolute bare minimum possible. Cost is their ONLY consideration. And if they are too cheap to spend the money on quality hardware, do you think they will spend money on quality software? Of course not. They'll just pirate it instead. A user base that is rampant with that mentality, combined with an OS that is riddled with security holes, makes for an easy target for malware/virus/trojan writers.

Mac users, on the other hand, are willing to pay the "perceived" premium for a Mac because they see the added value in the OS and the hardware. As a result, they tend to not be cheapskates prone to piracy.

*I emphasize "cheap" Windows systems because it's perfectly possible to spend just as much on a Windows PC for a proper equivalent to a Mac. I used to build my own PCs, and I didn't save money doing so. I did have more powerful, more stable systems though than the typical PC.


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Tomel

 
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The OP asked if anyone could point him to an article with a technical explanation for why Mac users are not subject to viruses in the same way as Windows users. I think it is understood that the overwhelmingly large number of Windows users must be one reason. However, instead of making educated guesses, IS there a technical article or a study that has looked into this issue in a systematic manner? As someone new to the Mac world, I also would like to better understand the differences that apparently make the Mac platform safer with respect to computer viruses.
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A nice read. Apple - Mac OS X - Security - Keeps safe from viruses and malware
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Tomel

 
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Thanks OSXX . . .

This WAS a good read, especially the link titled "Read the Snow Leopard security brief" which is a PDF file that goes into a lot of detail on all the security-related parts of the OS.

Now I'd really like to find a reference which does a side-by-side comparison of security capabilities highlighting differences between Win 7 and Snow Leopard. I'm an old school Windows user with my first Mac (MacBook Pro i5) and a Win 7 desktop. I enjoy not having to do so much on-going maintenance, virus scanning, etc. with the Mac, but my curiosity has been aroused as to why the big difference between the two OS's.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomel View Post
Thanks OSXX . . .

This WAS a good read, especially the link titled "Read the Snow Leopard security brief" which is a PDF file that goes into a lot of detail on all the security-related parts of the OS.

Now I'd really like to find a reference which does a side-by-side comparison of security capabilities highlighting differences between Win 7 and Snow Leopard. I'm an old school Windows user with my first Mac (MacBook Pro i5) and a Win 7 desktop. I enjoy not having to do so much on-going maintenance, virus scanning, etc. with the Mac, but my curiosity has been aroused as to why the big difference between the two OS's.
Look up Unix Kernel thats what OSX is based on.
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomel View Post
The OP asked if anyone could point him to an article with a technical explanation for why Mac users are not subject to viruses in the same way as Windows users. I think it is understood that the overwhelmingly large number of Windows users must be one reason. However, instead of making educated guesses, IS there a technical article or a study that has looked into this issue in a systematic manner? As someone new to the Mac world, I also would like to better understand the differences that apparently make the Mac platform safer with respect to computer viruses.
Well coming to a forum riddled with Mac advocates isn't the best way to get a completely objective answer in the first place. If anyone cited articles, they'd likely be heavily biased to one's existing viewpoint. Go to a Windows users forum, and you'd get opposing answers supported by articles biased to their viewpoint. It'd be more sensible to just search for articles on the subject and then try to figure out what seems to be the most rational, qualified answer. Here… Let me google that for you


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_Claymore_

 
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Now to change the subject a little. With the user base of Mac increasing these days, does anyone for-see a virus problem in the future? In the next 10 years will it be as big a problem as it is for Windows users? Just interested to hear some veteran Mac users thoughts on this.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Claymore_ View Post
Now to change the subject a little. With the user base of Mac increasing these days, does anyone for-see a virus problem in the future? In the next 10 years will it be as big a problem as it is for Windows users? Just interested to hear some veteran Mac users thoughts on this.
If you read any of the linked articles (or Google searches) you'll probably have an answer to that question.


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