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· AllStar
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94 Posts
Hopefully this will bring to light the myth that Mac computers are safer than PCs.

They're no safer, there's just LESS malware for Macs than for PCs. For the simple reason that malware writers typically write their programs for the most popular operating system, which right now is Windows.

A person who still wants a hassle-free experience with their computer should still get a Mac. The amount of malware designed for the Mac OS is really just a fraction of a fraction of the malware swimming around for Windows. Experts have estimated that 1 in 14 downloads that run on the Windows OS is some sort of malware.

It would appear those tables are turning, however. I think we'll be seeing a lot more malware on Apple computers in the coming years as they start running even with Windows for the most popular OS.
 

· Hall Of Fame
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16,178 Posts
I think there may be a bit of an argument that they are at least somewhat safer.

I honestly think some of the security issues in Windows is due to legacy code that gets carried over. Certainly not all of them, but a good number.

When's the last time Windows was completely rewritten? At one point, Jim Allchin said Vista was a complete rewrite, but I never believed it (though all the issues with Vista did make it slightly believable.) But too many security vulnerabilities affected both Vista and XP for it to be a complete rewrite. Probably was just the kernel.

On the Mac on the other hand, OS X at least was as much of a rewrite as possible. I think that helps quite a bit. You couldn't run an OS9 app in OSX itself, it had to be done in "Classic" which used OS9.
 

· Founder
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17,247 Posts
From what I understand writing Malware and viruses for Macs are more difficult and expensive which is why there aren't many of them...plus, it affects many less users. Even with more Macs selling, there may be an uptick of Malware but nowhere near as many as on the Windows side since writing stuff for Windows is as easy as a free download and a little creativity.
 

· Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.
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15,115 Posts
Lucavex said:
It would appear those tables are turning, however. I think we'll be seeing a lot more malware on Apple computers in the coming years as they start running even with Windows for the most popular OS.
Nah. It's a long held shibboleth that the reason that Macs are less violated by creeps writing malware is due to a lower installed base. It's because the OS is tighter, better designed, and Mac users are more discriminating, smarter, better dressed, better educated, more actualized, better travelled, more compassionate, richer and better looking than PC users.

OK, the italics are tongue-in-cheek, and I hope amusing and not offensive. But I do believe it's the OS, including apps supplied by the makers of the OSes. (I.e, [I.E!], Word, Entourage, Excel, etc. that allow a wider path for malware, trojans and worms.
 

· Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.
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15,115 Posts
dpeters11 said:
The area where I'm waiting on malware is in the mobile space. As smartphones become more popular and advanced, it's a huge market. There have been a few things, but nothing big yet.
And then those who complain about the closed nature of app writing and acceptance may have another think.

Er, maybe not!:nono2:
 

· Hall Of Fame
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Laxguy said:
And then those who complain about the closed nature of app writing and acceptance may have another think.

Er, maybe not!:nono2:
I'm not convinced Apple's process will prevent that. Would they really catch an inactive payload that activates on a particular day? There's still a lot of stupidity in Apple's policies. Why, for example, do certain apps carry essentially an NC17 rating, like the Wikipedia apps?

We know they've approved apps they then later pulled. With all the apps being submitted, there is no way they are looking at them that carefully and I don't think you could catch a payload without looking at the source code. Some legit apps have gotten around Apple policies with an Easter Egg (Yelp and Camera+ as examples). It wasn't until people found it and it was public before Apple caught on.
 

· Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.
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15,115 Posts
Will it totally prevent? No, almost certainly no guarantee. But I believe it places a lot of blocks that will keep the numbers down. There may be tests they run that look for bad tricks; dunno.
 

· Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery
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3,148 Posts
our Apple engineering rep said, with a straight face, "macs don't get viruses or malware."

I nearly imploded.
 

· Hall Of Fame
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RasputinAXP said:
our Apple engineering rep said, with a straight face, "macs don't get viruses or malware."

I nearly imploded.
They just don't get it. I like Linux, I use it all the time. But even it can get malware. We can't be under the assumption that a system can't get it.

If malware can be introduced into Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges to change their rotational speed to destroy them, then pretty much anything can get infected.
 

· Founder
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17,247 Posts
RasputinAXP said:
our Apple engineering rep said, with a straight face, "macs don't get viruses or malware."

I nearly imploded.
I can't believe someone would actually say that. Macs, like any other system, can get viruses and malware.

With that said though Macs don't get them very often. I've had my OSX profile on various Macs now for several years and just for fun I ran a virus scan. Over the years I picked up a few Windows viruses but no OSX stuff at all. I simply deleted the exe files (which Macs won't run) and that was it.

What I tell people is that it's unlikely they will pick up any viruses and if they do, it's pretty easy to clean them off...but to say Macs don't get viruses is deceptive.
 

· Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery
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3,148 Posts
Chris Blount said:
I can't believe someone would actually say that. Macs, like any other system, can get viruses and malware.

With that said though Macs don't get them very often. I've had my OSX profile on various Macs now for several years and just for fun I ran a virus scan. Over the years I picked up a few Windows viruses but no OSX stuff at all. I simply deleted the exe files (which Macs won't run) and that was it.

What I tell people is that it's unlikely they will pick up any viruses and if they do, it's pretty easy to clean them off...but to say Macs don't get viruses is deceptive.
Agreed. It's just flat out frustrating to hear it in a meeting, because we're all in the industry, and we know what you're saying is absolute horsehockey. Even when I asked how Mac Defender could possibly be different from Windows malware that still demands UAC elevation he said it was "totally different."

I wish I was joking, but I started getting a massive headache at that point and we were barely 20 minutes into a 90 minute 'presentation'.
 

· Premium Member
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21,658 Posts
If we're being honest for a moment...

The Mac operating system seems more secure, but is it? That's a hard thing to quantify. It may actually be more secure!

But I wouldn't make the statement that my home is bear-proof just because no bear has ever been inside... what's true is that no bear has ever tried to get inside :)

In large part... the Mac marketshare by component is not large enough to attract hackers... so whether it is more secure or not, it just isn't getting attacked as often.

And as others have alluded to... a LOT of the hacking ends up being user error really, more than genius of the virus or malware. More times than not, the user has to actively install, activate, accept, or otherwise invoke the virus/malware for it to infiltrate his system.

I'm always reminded of a show I saw once... on PBS I think... it was about a group of guys who used to do some hacking for "fun"... and decided to start a security business... where basically companies paid them to poke around and see how secure they were, and then make recommendations.

Most times, they said really basic security was more than enough to stop a hacker. One company they "hacked" by calling up reception and saying the boss had told them to call and ask for the password... and the receptionist just gave it to them! This is akin to people who just download whatever the email or popup directs them to install and run...

Without those people... most systems would be a LOT more secure.
 
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