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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Should i use an Anti-Virus


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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technologist View Post
On the other hand, the anti-malware companies aren't much better. Flashback was spreading in the wild several days before most anti-virus vendors were able to offer any protection.
And that ultimately is the catch. No AV software will be able to defend against malware the moment it is released. It will take time for it to get someone's attention as it spreads, then for them to analyze it and release an update. Most AV software try to minimize this risk by analyzing behavior, but that's gotta be a drag on the system and prone to false warnings. Personally, I've decided to stick with running ClamXav once a week in the middle of the night as a "second opinion", but otherwise leave it to "safe" computing practices and Apple's own defenses. Come Mountain Lion, with the new Gatekeeper feature, sticking to the option to only allow signed applications should eventually prove to be adequate on its own once the developer community is on board with it and update their software.


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Stanley

 
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Some people are very, very risk-averse.

Some get very worked up after experiencing FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing tactics.

I am still trying to get a neighbor to update her PC antivirus. Her old school solutions slow her computer way, way down. But she feels safe with the bogging down "because that means it found something and is protecting me". It can take her five minutes to open an email program and get the latest emails.

It may be awhile! Both for her to get her work done, and for me to gradually update her.

But in the meantime she is happy and that is the main thing. She has a technology solution that works for her.
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z3braman

 
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So it isn't the PC or OS that we are now concerned with. The designers are having success pretending to be you. Under windows it was due to the myriad of security holes that were exploited. Now, irrespective of OS, the system gains access to privileged services and starts sending your data out to the web.

So the question is where is the breach and what is to be done about it. Is fixing the problem on a mac the same as on windows? In other words, is it because the legacy vulnerabilities get passed on due to built in legacy support or is due to third party apps opening ports?

Running macros in Word on PCs has always been a dangerous proposition since Word could control the PC. Does the mac have the same problem? If it was java that opened the door why is a mac any different?

I think the antimalware vendors are making money off this. Does that mean they are fanning the flames?
I guess this is more of additional questions than any answers.
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Cozmot

 
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Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
I continue to maintain that an "anti-virus" for the Mac is unnecessary. Yes, some third-party essentials that are included (or in the case of Java, not included as of Lion) in OS X can be vulnerable to malware. And yes, the so-called "anti-virus" programs may catch these faster than Apple.

I still don't think the trade-off is ultimately worth it, however. There has yet to be a malware threat to the Mac that wasn't comically easy to avoid, and for all the hype this latest malware got -- the servers it was supposed to report it got shut down early on, meaning even those who were "infected" didn't actually have anything happen to them other than that. I would call that "overblown."

Java is rarely used on the Mac anymore (at least via the web browser), so for most people I'd say simply turn it off and see if you don't need it (the final "fix" from Apple essentially does that already). Most of the infected machines, from what I've read, were running outdated software. For them, you need to disable Java period full stop until you update to a more modern system.

I think good computing practices will go a lot further towards keeping you out of trouble than an "anti-virus." While Flash and Java have been compromised, I notice that neither of those things are parts of OS X, so I still have great confindence in it.
I couldn't agree more. Keep in mind that Windows PCs with AV software get malware too. Most AV software interferes with the OS, slows it down, makes some programs uninstallable, etc. Sensible and informed computing practices will keep your Apple devices malware free.
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chas_m

 
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Thanks, Cozmot.

I've also mentioned elsewhere (but not here, apparently) that if you are running Snow Leopard or Lion, you are already running anti-malware software (called XProtect) -- it's baked right into those systems, and updated silently so you won't see anything in Software Update about it.

For reasons not known to me, the Java exploit could not be dealt with by XProtect, but rest assured it is already, automatically, stopping other (earlier) Flashback variants and other bad stuff. If Apple learned anything from this latest scare, it would likely be that they need to do better about a) eliminating dependencies on shaky third-party software (Flash, Java) and b) no more napping on the job for the XProtect people (who have traditionally been a little slow to update the program).

In short, however, that's all the anti-malware I think I need, thanks. I guess there's no real harm in running other anti-malware programs if you want, but I'm gonna stay barefoot for a while longer I think.
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Larry H

 
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My Mac Mini has been in service since Nov 09 without any AV program. With all the discussions of to run or not to run AV, I decided to download ClamXav and scan my computer.

Program downloaded, entire computer scanned. Nothing found.

I also did the check for Flashback prior to the Apple fix, and found nothing there either. I have disabled Java. I did apply the Apple fix.

At this point, I don't think I need to worry about viruses, or malware, but I will maintain vigilance and perhaps scan weekly or monthly.

Thanks to all the forum experts who have offered opinions.
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Fisher85

 
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My two cents is that no matter what kind of machine, be it PC or Mac, if it's connected to the Internet, you should have some form of AV protection running. The more popular Macs become, the higher the likelihood that new viruses will appear for Macs.....these Trojans that have been reported are just the beginning.

Eventually, a Mac will be just as vulnerable to a virus as a PC is. Heck, I care not what anyone says, but I DO have AV running on my MacBook Air. Better safe than sorry
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fisher85 View Post
The more popular Macs become, the higher the likelihood that new viruses will appear for Macs.

Eventually, a Mac will be just as vulnerable to a virus as a PC is.
I know you're just repeating stuff you've been told, so I don't blame you ... but I am so very, very tired of this long-discredited nonsense.

On the first point:
The Mac Malware Myth — RoughlyDrafted Magazine

On the second point: Anyone who knows *anything* about UNIX knows this is pure ... um, malarkey.

Since it evidently bears repeating, here it is again:

1. MALWARE ≠ VIRUS.
2. There are still no viruses on the Mac. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Nil.
3. The two big malware exploits that have affected the Mac so far were based on FLASH (not made by Apple) and JAVA (not made by Apple). Security problems in Java (which have been very well-documented) was one of the leading reasons Apple opted not to include it by default in Lion, and (again well-documented) security problems in Flash was one of the reasons it was not included in iOS and was discontinued (by Adobe) for the mobile platform entirely.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle!
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Ctrl-Opt-Del

 
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I've never understood why it isn't possible to put anti-virus software on all the web servers in the world & protect all computers - be they Windows PC, Mac, or any other flavour of machine - from viruses at the source of the infection...

For my purposes as an engineering undergraduate; Windows is respectable (& generally necessary), Linux is admirable (& often useful), OS X is enjoyable (& requires no further justification, although plenty could be given)!
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ctrl-Opt-Del View Post
I've never understood why it isn't possible to put anti-virus software on all the web servers in the world & protect all computers - be they Windows PC, Mac, or any other flavour of machine - from viruses at the source of the infection...
This is a good question. Sadly, it has a few answers:

1. There is no such thing as an anti-virus program that is 100 percent effective.

2. New malware and viruses are being created all the time. An anti-virus can't stop something it's never encountered before.

3. A lot of Windows malware/viruses are disguised so that the owner has very little clue that they have one or that it is doing anything. That's why I laugh at those Windows owners who claim they don't run anti-virus and "have never had problem." THOSE are the people behind the bot-nets, the zombie attacks, the DDoS attacks, etc.

I could go on, but you get the picture ...
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Ghost Rider

 
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I was a scared newbie and asked the same question last year and I go on a lot of questionable websites.
I would get around 3 to 4 viruses a year on my PC even with virus protection but not a single one on my IMac.

Newbie of the year 2011
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CebuCity

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
I know you're just repeating stuff you've been told, so I don't blame you ... but I am so very, very tired of this long-discredited nonsense.

On the first point:
The Mac Malware Myth RoughlyDrafted Magazine

On the second point: Anyone who knows *anything* about UNIX knows this is pure ... um, malarkey.

Since it evidently bears repeating, here it is again:

1. MALWARE ≠ VIRUS.
2. There are still no viruses on the Mac. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Nil.
3. The two big malware exploits that have affected the Mac so far were based on FLASH (not made by Apple) and JAVA (not made by Apple). Security problems in Java (which have been very well-documented) was one of the leading reasons Apple opted not to include it by default in Lion, and (again well-documented) security problems in Flash was one of the reasons it was not included in iOS and was discontinued (by Adobe) for the mobile platform entirely.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle!

This is really a great point.... but pls help me understand further with (1.) I know there has been a long debate regarding virus and malware. Just a newbie question from a very satisfied switcher (I can't live without my mac).
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I would say go with Sophos. It does a real good job, it doesn't slow down performance of your Mac, and it is free. If you come from a household where both Macs and Windows machines are used, I would say installing an AV is a good courtesy move. It may not attach itself to your Mac, but if you need to send a attachment file to a Windows user, Sophos will tell you if a virus is in the attachment and/or file you will send. I remember getting a file once that had a virus and the Sophos caught it before I sent it to my intended recipient, who by the way uses a Windows based machine. Just my two cents.

May God bless.

Ed
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CebuCity View Post
This is really a great point.... but pls help me understand further with (1.) I know there has been a long debate regarding virus and malware. Just a newbie question from a very satisfied switcher (I can't live without my mac).
Sure thing.

A Virus is a program that is designed to cause irreparable harm (or at least annoyance) to your computer and you (deleting files, erasing the HD, etc). But that's not the worse part of a virus -- the worst part is that it is self-replicating, ie it will use the resources of your computer to send itself to other computers, which magnifies the harm.

The reason OS X is immune to viruses and is likely to stay that was is that applications simply aren't allowed to do this on Macs without the express involvement of the user -- and of course viruses don't want you to know they are even present, so of course they aren't going to ask your permission! Mac OS X *requires* an admin password to make any changes to the system.

Of course viruses are malware, but because the Mac is immune to viruses (and likely to stay that way), all OTHER forms of malware (worms, Trojans, phishing, bots) tend to be referred to as "malware" on the Mac. Macs *can* be vulnerable to Trojans and phishing threats because they try to FOOL the user into giving permission to install something they shouldn't. Once a malicious program has admin access, it still can't do a great deal of harm but it sure can be annoying (things like redirecting your DNS to other sites, for example).

A previous version of Flashback tried to fool people into installing it by masquerading as a Flash upgrade. Of course, any experienced Mac user would spot in a second that the installer wasn't legit, but most users aren't experts and that's how it gained a foothold (likewise with the "MacDefender" Trojan a year or two ago). Luckily, most Mac malware is still comically easy to avoid, even for the technology-challenged, which is why most attacks never get very far.

The most recent version of Flashback gave up on the idea of trying to fool users (since it wasn't working once word got out) and instead utilized a vulnerability in Java (which already has admin privileges) to get into systems WITHOUT the user being involved or aware. THAT was what freaked a lot of people out, though the "threat" was actually fairly minimal and the servers that the Flashback bot would have reported to were shut down. Turns out governments ARE good for something, who knew!

Anyway, between Apple's XProtect, keeping software up-to-date from legitimate sources, paying attention to the Mac community (through news sites and forums like this one) and not falling for "scare-ware" as I call it, you're not likely to ever be at much risk. The next version of OS X, for example, is introducing a feature called "sandboxing" (already working on most browsers) that would have stopped this Java Flashback stone cold. Mountain Lion will also (we hope) make it easier for users to have and manage "complex" passwords that are more resistant to brute-force attacks (though we've been pretty safe in that regard so far, it's definitely an area of weakness).

Bottom line: common sense should continue to be your first line of defense. If you really want to run an anti-malware program, well, that's your choice -- but there are several good FREE ones, so at least don't fall for paying for one!
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Quote:
I've also mentioned elsewhere (but not here, apparently) that if you are running Snow Leopard or Lion, you are already running anti-malware software (called XProtect) -- it's baked right into those systems, and updated silently so you won't see anything in Software Update about it.
Maybe because users don't see anything they do not understand its protection.

chas_m yes you have highlighted this on many threads, I feel that for some reason people just don't read posts in full, thus missing important information.
Ive never had an AV and don't intend to in the near future.
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