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- Mac OSX Virus?
- William Mook
June 21, 2010, 5:25 pm
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I was using Firefox to visit Google Groups on my MacBook Pro this
morning (6AM Mon Jun 21, 2010). When I tried to post the blue status
bar kept clearing and building across the frame and disk activity -
without making progress toward posting the 2 line comment I attempted
to post to a group.
I cleared and tried several times. Even, rebooting the system. I
then thought maybe I was being impatient, so I tried posting again,
this time I went for a cup of coffee, and played with the dog before
coming back. Nothing!
So, I cancelled, packed up my computer and went to work.
Now, after lunch, I'm at a coffee shop responding to e-mails. I stop
by my Google Groups again, and I get the same problem. So, I halt
Firefox and begin using Safari, and the problem seems to have gone
away. I can post no problem (though Google keeps asking me if I'm
human every step along the way since my computer is acting like a
So, I wonder?
Does OSX have a virus?
Does OSX have a reliable anti-virus?
Does Firefox have a problem?
I know I do! lol.
Re: Mac OSX Virus?
On 21/06/2010 13:25, William Mook wrote:
[snip tale of puzzlement]
Not on the evidence provided.
I don't know. I've not looked for/seen reviews of the few that are out
Possibly. Has it or an add-on been updated in the last couple of days?
That sometimes casues problems.
Likely, esp. if there are no updates to FF or add-ons. Most likely is
that someone did some maintenance and mangled little bit of code. Try
again this evening or tomorrow. If the problem goes away, the it was
Google and they fixed it. If not, post to a Mac users group, and find
out if anyone else has observed the phenom.
That's life. ;o
Re: Mac OSX Virus?
Hello William :)
Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
In today's episode we're going to address a controversial topic: do you
need anti-virus software for your mac?
Now, all the time, I get asked "do you need to install anti-virus
software on your mac?". Now I can answer this as a journalist, and say
"well, it's best to be safe, I don't want to say anything that may
change over time", that kind of thing. But I'm going to answer, just as
I would a personal friend, and I'm gonna say: "no, you don't need to
install anti-virus on your mac". Now, let me explain why. The first
thing is, there are no viruses for the mac. I don't mean that there
never will be viruses for the mac, I don't mean that there weren't
viruses for the Mac in the past, I just mean right now, there are no
active viruses for the mac. If you look at the anti-virus software and
you read carefully and research, you'll find that they don't protect you
against any viruses, because there aren't any to protect you against. I'm
talking numbers here, and the number is 0. There are none.
Ok, so what about every once in a while you read a report about some
sort of security exploit, or patch that Apple has issued. Well, there
are researchers that go and find exploits and they do publish them and
Apple does patch them up. But I'm talking about real viruses, thing you
can actually get by visiting webpages, downloading software that spread
from Mac to mac. They just don't exist now. There used to be some back
in the OS 9 days, and I'm sure at some point in an infinite future,
there will be viruses for the mac. But right now, there's nothing for
you to be protected against, and the anti-virus software out there have
no definitions for active viruses for the mac.
Now, I'm not talking about the fact that Mac has a smaller market share,
and that's why they're less of a target for viruses. I'm not talking
about why there are no viruses, I'm talking about the numbers, 0, there
are no viruses for the Mac now. What really makes me angry is that some
of the pieces of anti-virus software actually kind of lie to you. They'll
say things like "they will protect you against all active viruses
currently out for the Mac". Well, that's 0. So, they're telling you the
truth, but they're misleading trying to get you to think that there are
some active viruses out there. So what are those those programs doing?
Well, believe it or not, they're protecting your Mac against Windows
viruses, these are viruses you cannot get on your Mac, they affect the
Windows OS and Windows applications, but they look on your Mac to see if
there are viruses in an email attachment or something else that you
have, and to prevent them from spreading to Windows machines on your
network. Now, you're Windows machines need to have anti-virus anyway,
there's no point also running it on your Mac when it's not actually
giving you any benefit for the Mac itself.
So what about that day when a virus does come out for the Mac? Wouldn't
it be great to already have one of these anti-virus programs running on
your Mac? Well, the thing is, it's not going to protect you, not going
to protect you when that virus comes out. So they're gonna protect you
hours or days later, when the anti-virus software is updated to protect
you against that new threat. Now, also updating at the same time, is
going to be Apple, you know they're going to be all over it updating the
OS through software update to protect you from this new virus.
So, who's going to get there first, or will they get there about the
same time? And what's the track record of anti-virus companies? In the
Windows world, track record isn't that great really, when you look at
the history of all the anti-virus companies, sometimes these viruses go
undetected, without a solution, for weeks or even months. So, you don't
know whether or not one of these third party companies or Apple is going
to jump on this first, but my bet is on Apple, they have the best
interest in providing updates soon as a virus appears.
So another factor is the Apple press, usually guys that are over every
little unlikely rumor. You know that the second a virus hits for the
Mac, it's gonna be major headlines everywhere. So if you're the type of
person that keeps up to date with Apple news, and I think you are, cause
you're watching this, well then believe me that you're going to know
about any virus that appears, you're gonna know how to prevent it, you're
gonna know when there's an update, you're gonna know everything about
it. So, your best bet is just to keep yourself informed.
So, what's the harm in running one of these? I mean if you're willing to
part with some money, and have an extra process running on your Mac, is
there any real big deal? Well, it will slow things down and there are
erroneous reports, and there are problems. I for one will never forgive
Norton for having part of their security software insert code into every
html page that somebody visited on the web. It broke tons of pages on my
site, it wasn't my fault, and it took me days to figure out what was
wrong, and it was completely unnecessary, which is badly written
software. And I'm sure, things like that exist. One of the pieces of
software out there right now, for instance, is erroneously identifying
emails that don't even have attachments as potentially containing a
virus. So, there is a downside to running these things.
So I was thinking of providing a list of anti-virus software for the
Mac, so you can check them out for yourself. But I don't even want to
encourage you to possibly spend your money on these things, a lot of
these just outright mislead you into thinking there's a threat and need
to buy their software now. And I don't like over the long run how they've
all used press releases to try to scare people into buying their
products. They're just using fear as marketing.
Now, while there have been known viruses for the Mac OS 10, there has
been at least one trojan. A trojan is when you download a piece of
software, and you know you're downloading it, and it's not what it
appears to be. This doesn't happen when you download software from Apple
or any reputable
source, this happened, in this case, with an older version of iWork when
you downloaded it from a site that was obviously distributing pirated
software. So, you had to go through different warnings saying "Do you
know you're installing this software?", and you did it anyway.
Anti-viruses are not going to protect you against that, because if you
went through those default OS 10 warnings, you're gonna go through the
warnings in the anti-virus software as well. Oh, and by the way, that
trojan was very heavily reported in the Apple media, so if you kept up
to date with the news, you knew about it.
Now, gonna get a lot of comments, I know, especially from Windows users,
let me just be very clear about some things: there are no active viruses
for the Mac, none for Mac OS 10 right now. There are some old ones for
Mac OS 9, and I'm not saying there's not going to be any in the future,
but right now these anti-virus programs are not protecting you again
anything, some of the website even admit it. So, if you disagree with
me, do your research. Number two, I'm not telling you to ignore the
problem, I'm telling you to keep up to date with the news, and keep your
Mac up to date with the latest version of OS 10. Number three, I'm just
telling it to you straight, this is what I would tell a friend if they
needed anti-virus software, I'd say "No. At the current time you don't
need it, it's a waste of money and it could potentially cause problems"
If you disagree, then I look forward to reading your well reasoned-out
thoughts as a comment to this post at MacMost.com
I hope you found this video informative. Until next time, this is Gary
Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.
Re: Mac OSX Virus?
Security updates which probably address exploitable vulnerabilities have
little to do with *viruses* - just because there are no viruses for a
particular environment, doesn't mean that there is no malware for same.
Viruses are a special case. Viruses *can* use software exploits, but in
general exploits are not needed for viruses (true worms, are a different
Re: Mac OSX Virus? (2)
On 01/07/2010 03:02, ~BD~ wrote:
Yes, I found it very thorough.
IMO viruses are not the main danger anymore (though if you ever get one,
the effect can be traumatic. Don't ask how I know.)
Trojans, spybots, hijackers, spambots, sniffers - these are money makers
for the criminal classes, who are taking serious aim at all
desktop/mobile/laptop/ OSs. The days of "I don't have to worry, I have a
Mac" are over.
Anyhow, direct attack on the OS is not necessary. Social engineering
trumps OS security measures. All it takes is a careless or unaware click
on an e-mail attachment or web-site link, and the malware is installed
on your computer. Since you "allowed" it, it will run at your permission
level, which means it can send and receive 'net traffic, which what the
black hats want. The strict permissions regime of the *nix (including
OS-X) is no protection. It is designed to prevent attacks on the OS
itself, which is no help when the user has allowed the malware access to
More subtle attacks are also possible, of course. No one really knows
all the insecurities in *nix (which includes OS-X), as there have been
no really serious attacks as yet. Granted, *nixes are inherently more
secure than Windows, but that doesn't mean they're impregnable.
Re: Mac OSX Virus? (2)
Generally, there is no reason to resort to viral techniques when there
is so much low hanging fruit to be had just by tricking the user into
running an application he perhaps shouldn't be running. When users start
getting clued-up and adhering to best practices, viruses might again
rule the malware world.
Good point to make, Wolf K.
Not long ago I was trying to convince some Linux user that malware
(specifically, bots) can still run on Linux, he didn't understand that
malware is often just an application that the user is running and not
some software exploit based intruder.
Re: Mac OSX Virus? (2)
Why can't OS-X detect 'allowed' transmissions of personal information
and ask the OS user to approve permission the first time it occurs?
As a dumb user I want all the benefits of cookies and their spawn
without the trouble. I don't mind in the least knowing what is
leaving my system and who is getting it. It seems to me it would be
simplicity itself to have classes of personal OS owner information
that triggers an 'approval' window (until turned off) and keep track
of all such transactions and when they occurred and so forth.
Am I missing something?