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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

OS 10.0 - the big virus question...


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jpfritz
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Ok, I am doing massive research for myself and a friend regarding purchasing the new MacBook. I am ready to jump ship from windows, but am getting confused the more websites I search. Can someone explain to me any or all of the following?


1. Macs either NEVER get viruses, or if they do they are only problematic because they might be sent to other window users via email, but will not do anything to the Mac. Is this true? I know OSX is super secure and that most do not buy the anti virus programs for macs that are out there. Can someone explain to me on the odd change you d/l a win virus, would it do anything to the mac? Are their any Mac viruses out there that are detrimental? or are they just minor things that really dont do anything major, unlike all the windows viruses.

2. As long as you are not running any windows programs, you will not d/l windows viruses. If you are just surfing and emailing but never using the windows programs for mac, you are secure and fine. Is this true? I know that you can open a Word file using the Macbook progrms and are able to save in multiple formats. If a Word file is "infected" would it bother or hurt the Macbook?

3. With the "Bootcamp" program you can have a dual boot machine and choose to boot into Windows XP ( if purchased and installed ) or OSX. If you do that and it appears there will be a section of the HD that will be partitioned off for XP, and you use the XP for various web activities, if you acquire a virus in the XP OS due to surfing/emailing while in the XP mode. Would that virus have any way of "jumping" to the other partition of the HD where X lives? or would it be stuck in the XP partition? I am thinking at first glance worst case if you get a XP virus while usign the XP partition, your OS X would be safe. Is this true?

4. Several of the MAC websites I went to basically stated that any virus for mac that shows up on a list is a virus written for various Word or other Windows files that people might use with the previous "virtual pc" on a mac, and that if you took those out of the list and all viruses for previous OS before X then you would have almost none to date. Is this true?

I realize that some of these may overlap, but I am sure you can understand/imagine the confusion when looking into the Mac Virus issue. One recurring theme that I did see is that only reason alot of schools and companies require AV to be put on macs is so window viruses do not get forwarded from macs where they do no harm to various other window users via email. I am still very sold on Macbook, but need to know these answeres to help with explaining to my friend and myself! LOL

Thanks in advance,
JP
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NanoBite

 
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1. the 2nd part is true.
2. Don't know
3. Yes
4. Yes
:headphone
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Brown Study

 
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Here's the official Mac-Forums FAQ thread on the virus and firewall issues.
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baggss

 
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1. Macs can get Windows viruses, but they won't cause any harm to the Mac since it is not a Windows OS based system. There are currently no known "real world" Mac viruses or vulnerability exploits. This is why most Mac users don't use Anti-Virus Apps.

2. Yes, you can pass an e-mail based virus to a Windows user when forwarding e-mail. The last time i checked, MS Word Macro-viruses will run on a Mac because they are not OS based, but Application based. It has to do with how Macros work within MS Word and not the specific system itself.

3. Yes, you would be safe. The Windows partition can not "see" the Mac partition without running a 3rd party Application that allows Windows to read MacOS formatted discs.

4. Yes, it is true.


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jpfritz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baggss
1. Macs can get Windows viruses, but they won't cause any harm to the Mac since it is not a Windows OS based system. There are currently no known "real world" Mac viruses or vulnerability exploits. This is why most Mac users don't use Anti-Virus Apps.

2. Yes, you can pass an e-mail based virus to a Windows user when forwarding e-mail. The last time i checked, MS Word Macro-viruses will run on a Mac because they are not OS based, but Application based. It has to do with how Macros work within MS Word and not the specific system itself.

3. Yes, you would be safe. The Windows partition can not "see" the Mac partition without running a 3rd party Application that allows Windows to read MacOS formatted discs.

4. Yes, it is true.

Ok, thanks. I do have two followup questions. Since I read that there is no Spyware for Macs, does that mean no keylogger programs as well? I assume they fall under the category of Spyware, but I just want to double check.

Also, I currently use Trillian to talk to various friends that use different chat programs. I don't believe Trillian is available for MAC. Is there a way to get it to work, or something that does the same thing to allow me to talk to Yahoo, AIM and Messenger users?

Thanks in advance!
JP
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trpnmonkey41

 
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keyloggers are just like spyware

www.adiumx.com does just what trillian does

Don't forget to use the new User Reputation System
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rukind2

 
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A decent spyware detection program is MacScan.
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Brown Study

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpfritz
1. Macs either NEVER get viruses, or if they do they are only problematic because they might be sent to other window users via email, but will not do anything to the Mac. Is this true?
It cannot be said that Macs never get viruses if you hold to the belief that worms are viruses. These are the two that according to the hype by AV companies, the ignorant and Microsoft moles writing computer columns in magazines and on the net have shaken the Macintosh world to its foundations. (I'm still reeling.)

This link to Sophos explains Leap-A. It's about as dangerous as a wet noodle.
Quote:
OSX/Leap-A is an instant-messaging worm for the Mac OS X platform.

The worm attempts to spread via the iChat instant messaging system, sending itself to available contacts on the infected users' buddy list in a file called latestpics.tgz.

OSX/Leap-A attempts to infect recently used applications.
So you'd have to be using iChat, click on a file called lastestpics.tgz, then blindly type in your password to open a picture and give permission for a program to install. Yeah, right.

This link to about.com explains the other one, created in an anti-virus-app company's lab (surprise, surprise). It is proof-of-concept; in other words, it was created as a marketing ploy.
Quote:
Inqtana is a proof-of-concept worm, coded with a stop date of February 24th and confining its spread to very specific bluetooth addresses. In other words, Inqtana in its current form poses no real threat to Mac users. However, antivirus vendor F-Secure advises that, "it is possible that some virus author will create similar worms that are not intentionally limited" and cautions Mac users to ensure their OS X installation has the latest security patches installed. At least three variants of the Inqtana worm are known to exist.
It doesn't say whether F-Secure created the variants, too. Apple's frequent security updates prevent these old malware attacks, anyway. Often enough, anti-virus interests warn of vulnerabilities after Apple removes the threats with updates the only way these leeches find out about them. Enter the FUD factor, stage left.
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Can someone explain to me on the odd change you d/l a win virus, would it do anything to the mac?
No, because it can't. It's written for Windows gibberish to Macintosh.
Quote:
2. As long as you are not running any windows programs, you will not d/l windows viruses.
A year or two ago, ClamXav, a free Mac anti-virus program, alerted me to a Windows virus buried in an email. So Macs will download them, as they would any other gibberish text. If I had forwarded that email to a Windows box, the Windows virus would try to do its thing. But I didn't know it existed, and neither did the Mac.
Quote:
If you are just surfing and emailing but never using the windows programs for mac, you are secure and fine. Is this true?
Yes.
Quote:
I know that you can open a Word file using the Macbook progrms and are able to save in multiple formats. If a Word file is "infected" would it bother or hurt the Macbook?
Word macro viruses can infect Word on Macs. This is Microsoft's fault, not Apple's. These viruses can't do anything, however, if macros are turned off. My knowledge of Word macros begins and ends there, however.
Quote:
3. With the "Bootcamp" program you can have a dual boot machine and choose to boot into Windows XP ( if purchased and installed ) or OSX. If you do that and it appears there will be a section of the HD that will be partitioned off for XP, and you use the XP for various web activities, if you acquire a virus in the XP OS due to surfing/emailing while in the XP mode. Would that virus have any way of "jumping" to the other partition of the HD where X lives? or would it be stuck in the XP partition? I am thinking at first glance worst case if you get a XP virus while usign the XP partition, your OS X would be safe. Is this true?
Macs can't read Windows code, whether it's Photoshop or a virus. If it could jump, it couldn't land.
Quote:
4. Several of the MAC websites I went to basically stated that any virus for mac that shows up on a list is a virus written for various Word or other Windows files that people might use with the previous "virtual pc" on a mac, and that if you took those out of the list and all viruses for previous OS before X then you would have almost none to date. Is this true?
Virtual PC emulates a Windows computer's processor. It is not Windows. To run a version of Windows, the Mac user needs the full-blown Windows install. In that respect, Virtual PC running Windows is no different than running Windows through Boot Camp, and that includes all the Windows vulnerabilities. But as with Boot Camp, no Windows virus could affect the Mac side when running Virtual PC, even after dragging files between the Windows OS and the Mac OS.
Quote:
One recurring theme that I did see is that only reason alot of schools and companies require AV to be put on macs is so window viruses do not get forwarded from macs where they do no harm to various other window users via email.
That's right.

Any Mac anti-virus app might include code to recognize the two worms listed above, but Apple plugged those holes, anyway. They might also include AV code to recognize pre-OS X Mac viruses, so the companies can say their products include anti-Mac-virus code.

But like Windows viruses, pre-OS X Mac viruses are gibberish in OS X. There were very few, anyway, and for the same reason viruses can't propagate on OS X Macs: Many, if not most, required as many hoops to jump through as Leap-A does and most of these viruses were pre-internet. They spread on floppies and once by a Mac magazine's free CD (pre-OS X) that was infected.

Spyware, other than purchased apps, doesn't exist, either, so any anti-Mac spyware app is as useless as an anti-virus app full of Windows-virus-only code. A few months ago as an experiment I went to every Windows-spyware trap I could find, including about 50 pr0n sites, then ran a Mac anti-spyware app. The machine was clear. I've run the app since, and the machine was still clear. As with AV code, I don't know how any anti-spyware app could recognize spyware when none exists. How does it know what to look for?

Every app needs the user's permission to install, including virus apps. It's not the so-called small market share that prevents viruses from being written for Macs; it's the difficulty in spreading them. One less-than-intelligent user could load a virus, but the next person wouldn't. Mac viruses can't spread passively, as Windows viruses do. It would take real effort to load one, and any virus would be stopped dead.
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Alenkiy

 
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Maybe I am obtuse, but I cannot clearly comprehend the situation about Virtual PC and viruses. Let me describe what I am doing and, please, somebody simply answer to me "yes" or "no".
I have one program (it doesn't need an Internet access) that I run on Virtual PC. I am using Virtual Box, not a Boot camp, so I can switch between my Windows XP and Mac OS X at any second.
Now, for example, I am browsing with Safari and at the same time have a program opened and working in my Virtual Windows XP.
Question: can Windows OS (no antivirus installed) catch a virus while I am browsing with Safari? Can viruses "see" that I have a Windows running and it's unprotected?

P.S. Let's say that the program I am running on my Windows XP is a Learn Spanish course, which never uses internet, never opens or creates any files, doesn't interact with other applications; it's self-contained.
However, I am planning to install and use MS Office for Windows to use Word and Excel, which are very interactive (i think). Would there be a different answer to my question then?

Thank you very much!
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alenkiy View Post
Question: can Windows OS (no antivirus installed) catch a virus while I am browsing with Safari? Can viruses "see" that I have a Windows running and it's unprotected?
No.

Quote:
P.S. Let's say that the program I am running on my Windows XP is a Learn Spanish course, which never uses internet, never opens or creates any files, doesn't interact with other applications; it's self-contained.
However, I am planning to install and use MS Office for Windows to use Word and Excel, which are very interactive (i think). Would there be a different answer to my question then?

Thank you very much!
No.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Alenkiy

 
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THANK YOU! I appreciate your taking the time to respond!
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