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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

What is it about Mac OS that prevents viruses?


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simonvee

 
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Firstly: Sometimes I hear that there are no viruses for Macs and sometimes I hear there are a few viruses for Macs. Can somebody clear this up? Perhaps the latter refers to Malware?

Secondly: What is it about Mac OS that it cannot get viruses? What is it about Windows that it is prone to so many virus attacks? I have heard about the market share explanation but I would like to hopefully understand about the programming explanation (in laymen terms).
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McBie

 
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It is a myth that any OS is immune to malware. The same goes for OS X.
What makes OSX more resilient for malware is that the code base has security built in from the day it was created ( Unix ). But you should keep in mind that there are many layers of code written on top of Unix to make it OS X ..... and code means potential vulnerabilities.
It also does not make sense to talk about a virus / trojan / whatever ( that is all semantics ). It is all about malware.
The biggest risk to your computer is your human behaviour ( I mean in general, not personal :-) ) ....
If you keep your OS and Apps up to date ( especially flash and Java ) and you only install something when you specifically went looking for it, you are doing great.
Apple will ensure that technical threats are addressed in the appropriate way ( but unfortunately not in the fastest way ).

Enjoy your Mac.

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simonvee

 
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So the basis of OSX is Unix. This is a guess but is Windows MS-Dos?

Can Windows change it's foundation so that the basis of it's OS is Unix? I think I may already know the answer to that. It can but this would change all the software that it is compatible with?
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McBie

 
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I don't know what the foundation of Windows is, i guess it was written from the ground up.
Technically, MS could rewrite code and use another OS kernel as the foundation for windows , but that would indeed cause all windows apps to be rewritten . Unless MS provides some kind of a ' broker ' system to translate windows calls to the new kernel type of calls. Not worth it I would say. :-)

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simonvee

 
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To summarize what you have said before: "there are many layers of code written on top of Unix to make it OS X"
So in other words, there are many layers as opposed to one or a couple of layers of code written on Unix to make it secure. Can't MS do the same with their OS?

The reality is there are Malwares for OSX. Yet, so many people who I have spoken to do not use antivirus for their Macs. What are the anti-virus software are there for OSX? May I ask you do you use anti-virus software?

Last edited by simonvee; 05-03-2014 at 01:34 PM.
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You may, most savvy Mac owners do not. I disagree that it makes no sense to distinguish between types of malware. You don't need anti-virus software, because it won't find a virus that does not exist. I guess some A-V apps find other types of malware, but if you don't visit p0rn sites or download pirated software, you'll be fine.
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MBP17•David

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonvee View Post
What are the anti-virus software are there for OSX? May I ask you do you use anti-virus software?



Are you really just going to keep banging on about this, until you hear the answer you want to hear, yet ignoring all the reasonable and detailed explanations given?

Dvid
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harryb2448

 
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No viruses for Mac OS X. There were a couple in olden days of OS 9 and earlier. Best protection against malware is safe browser practices including never ever divulge passwords, make sure download are come from genuine software developers and keep OS X up to date with Security Updates from Apple.

If you still feel you MUST have antivirus software coming from the Windows background, go for ClamXAV. Many commercial AV are real process hogs. If you run Windows via BootCamp or Parallels, you do need AV SOFTWARE on that partition. Any virus picked up there cannot be transferred over to OS X.

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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chscag

 
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are you really just going to keep banging on about this, until you hear the answer you want to hear, yet ignoring all the reasonable and detailed explanations given?
+1 rofl.
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonvee View Post
Firstly: Sometimes I hear that there are no viruses for Macs and sometimes I hear there are a few viruses for Macs. Can somebody clear this up? Perhaps the latter refers to Malware?

Secondly: What is it about Mac OS that it cannot get viruses? What is it about Windows that it is prone to so many virus attacks? I have heard about the market share explanation but I would like to hopefully understand about the programming explanation (in laymen terms).
Okay, let's start with the simplest part: Viruses are malware, but not malware are viruses.

You're asking if there are viruses for Macs. The answer is "no."
Is there some malware for Macs? The answer is "yes."

What is it about the Macs that make them immune to viruses? A combination of things, but at its root the answer is that Mac OS X is based on UNIX, which was designed from the get-go to be secure. It is a military-grade, bank-grade, government-grade OS.

Windows was based on DOS, which gave nary a thought to security. The complex legacy code that Windows continues to rely on is the source of most of its ongoing issues. The best thing that could ever happen to Windows would be a top-to-bottom rewrite, but customers would never allow it. A majority are still running the 13-year-old Windows XP, which is (as you might imagine) full of holes.

Why don't Mac users need to run anti-virus and anti-malware programs? Anti-virus is not needed because there aren't any viruses. Anti-malware isn't needed because OS X has a built-in anti-malware system called XProtect, which is silently updated by Apple. Of course, XProtect cannot overcome the leading cause of malware on the Mac, which is user stupidity. By this I mean people who respond to a pop-up that claims you have a virus, and then give their user password to the malware so that it is installed. Luckily, XProtect will usually disable it.

Apple has also engaged in a number of other steps to improve security, such as not allowing the automatic installation of software from unrecognized developers. Others, including Google, have done what they can to stop users from going to known phishing and malware sites, but that's an uphill battle.

Finally, the Mac community in my experience is much more "connected" to each other than the Windows community. On the rare occasion that a new malware threat raises its head, we hear about it from each other very quickly. I guess with Windows there are too many threats for something like that, so its every man for themselves so to speak, it seems to me.

Lastly, the market share "explanation" you've heard is 100 percent pure agricultural-grade bull fertilizer that was debunked years ago, but in case you need proof, I give you the malware-free iOS platform versus the malware-ridden Android platform. Both are extremely popular. I think that serves as the final proof that "security through obscurity" is the myth it has always been.

I hope that answers your question.
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simonvee

 
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That is highly interesting and insightful, thank you!

With this newly acquired knowledge I can now explain, in laymen terms, to friends and family the topic of 'why Macs are more secure than Windows'. This replaces the typical explanation of 'I bought a Mac because it's more secure. It is because everyone says so... but I don't know why'.

I see a robust argument in the debunk of the 'market share' theory.

Before I was meant to say 'Anti-Malware Software'. I learned from McBie that Macs have other malwares but not viruses. I just have not heard 'Anti-Malware software' too frequently so I mistakenly said 'Anti-Virus software' instead. I also learned to use the correct term from now on or risk being ridiculed.

Last edited by simonvee; 05-04-2014 at 07:22 AM.
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Slydude

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post


Lastly, the market share "explanation" you've heard is 100 percent pure agricultural-grade bull fertilizer ....,
ROTFLMAO. Best family description of BS I've heard in a long time.

I'd give you a rep bump but that button does not seem to be working for me right now.

Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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vttodd

 
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Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
ROTFLMAO. Best family description of BS I've heard in a long time.

I'd give you a rep bump but that button does not seem to be working for me right now.
Slydude, what is the acronym "ROTFLMAO" ?
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vttodd

 
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Chas_M,

Are you saying that Apple iOS is also based on UNIX code the same as Mac OS-X ??
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vttodd View Post
Slydude, what is the acronym "ROTFLMAO" ?
Google search (gives you an immediate answer instead of waiting):

Urban Dictionary: ROTFLMAO

- Nick

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