Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security Businesses Apple

Apple Says Macs Are Safe, No Antivirus Needed 449

Posted by timothy
from the thought-we-were-mistaken-but-were-wrong dept.
lobridge writes "Over the last two days multiple news feeds (and Slashdot) have been reporting that Apple has been quietly recommending antivirus software for their machines. It appears now that Apple has deleted an entry on their forums that suggested this and are saying that Mac computers are 'safe out of the box.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Says Macs Are Safe, No Antivirus Needed

Comments Filter:
  • by revlayle (964221) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:42PM (#25978929) Homepage
    Safe out of the box... that is until a user starts clicking on things.
    • by cslax (1215816) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:43PM (#25978947)
      But but but... It just works!!
    • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:51PM (#25979057) Homepage Journal

      Safe out of the box... that is until a user starts clicking on things.

      Even after the user starts clicking on things, Macs are generally safe. The user must explicitly punch holes in their system to create most vulnerabilities.

      Honestly, the original tech note struck me as an attempt by Apple to say something that Apple politically couldn't say: Mac antivirus software primarily protects against Windows viruses. If Windows exists on your network or runs on your Mac via virtualization, your windows systems will be safer if you run Mac antiviral software. (Macs can't get infected, but they can be carriers!) Thus running antiviral software is a "good idea" and presents "one more program" that must be defeated.

      Of course, once the press got wind of this poorly worded tech note, it made more sense for Apple to simply pull it rather than take the political hit of wording it correctly.

      • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:58PM (#25979163)

        Whoa...hold on there,son. The fact that they publish security updates proves them wrong.

        Maybe there aren't many (or any) viruses, worms and whatnot targeting the platform today, but they will come, and when they arrive, it will be a good idea to have some protection installed beforehand. A relative few will still get infected before the AV industry can react, but the rest will be safe as soon as a definition update appears that detects the threat.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordKronos (470910)

          Yeah, but I think paying for antivirus software (and the likely yearly subscriptions) when there isn't even evidence of any viruses actually existing seems to me to be like paying for car insurance before you've bought a car or got your license. Should we also be vaccinating our bodies against theoretical illnesses that haven't even been discovered yet?

          • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Informative)

            by AndGodSed (968378) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:50PM (#25980039) Homepage Journal

            Hey. If you wiki you will see that there are viruses for Linux (I think the count is 4000ish), and below is a link to at least one Mac virus that I could find on Wikipedia (one search, I am lazy)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NVIR_(computer_virus) [wikipedia.org]

            I agree strongly with the sentiment that Antivirus for Linux and MacOS are largely to protect against spreading windows virii

            If you pass along an infected e-mail you are spreading a virus that could have stopped with you.

            Another point to consider is weaknesses in other applications such as flash, Macoffice, silverlight (wich has a Linux beta) and so on.

            OS vulnerability (or lack thereof) is only part of the puzzle.

            If you are running apache php and firefox a simple script will crash your whole system regardless of OS.

            A simple script along the lines of while $value is less than 1000000000 do value+1 and echo "the value is".$value

            (I put in an EXTREMELY simplified version since /. did not want to show the full script, but most of you guys should get the idea)

            In fact I embedded it in php and I caused my machine to run out of memory and lock up by simply accessing localhost in firefox. This is on an ubuntu box, running apache and FF with PHP.

            If you are creative you can get up to a lot of mischief, regardless of platform.

            • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Insightful)

              by DesertBlade (741219) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:57PM (#25980159)
              Technically that is not a crash of the system. While all the system resources are in use, you can kill Firefox and the system will return to normal. I have also seen poor javascript bring system to crawls, but the system stayed up. Virus software probably would not catch a scenario like this.
            • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Informative)

              by Graff (532189) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:02PM (#25980239)

              below is a link to at least one Mac virus that I could find on Wikipedia (one search, I am lazy)

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NVIR_(computer_virus) [wikipedia.org]

              I agree strongly with the sentiment that Antivirus for Linux and MacOS are largely to protect against spreading windows virii

              If you pass along an infected e-mail you are spreading a virus that could have stopped with you.

              The NVIR virus last worked on MacOS 8, it didn't work under MacOS 9 and it certainly doesn't work under Mac OS X. Basically the last operating system it worked on was obsolete over 10 years ago. There are no current Mac OS X viruses in the wild.

              In regards to spreading Windows viruses yeah I feel bad for Windows users but I won't spend my own money and processor cycles on worrying about their systems. If they want to protect their systems then they should take steps to protect themselves. They could also dump Windows and get an operating system that isn't so ridden with viruses and malware. That's their own choice and problem, not mine.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jbezorg (1263978)

                I wonder if the first OSX virus will be called "hubris". Has a nice ring to it. osx.hubris.v

                Malware On Mac OS X - Viruses, Trojans, and Worms
                http://www.macforensicslab.com/Malware_on_Mac_OS_X.pdf [macforensicslab.com]

                A white paper on the history and future of malware and how it can affect the Apple Mac OS X platform.

                This document discusses the technologies used in malware. These include viruses, Trojans and worms. The specific intention is to bring forth detailed discussion on how this affects the Apple Mac OS X platform. The document outlines a potential framework for a Mac OS X malware suite. The document closes with recommendations on what Apple Inc, and users of Mac OS X can do to defend against such technology.

                This paper was created to outline the results of research performed by the MacForensicsLab.com research and development team. These results are presented to the public in order to raise awareness of the situation and to prompt the relevant responsible parties to address the issues outlined within.

                The MacForensicsLab.com staff and SubRosaSoft.com Inc consider it important to bring such discussions out into the public and welcomes all opportunities to discuss the paper on info@subrosasoft.com.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by spiffyman (949476)

                I actually contracted nVIR on a Centris 610 once, well over a decade ago. I also wanted to point out that the fact that nVIR was viable against System 4.1 machines should have been a big freaking sign that something was amiss when it was cited as an example of the Mac's vulnerability. If the virus is contemporaneous with System 4.1, it's over 20 years old.

                nVIR is in the wild like smallpox is in the wild.

                People need to understand that no one in the know is saying that OS X is vulnerability-free or that it wi

              • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Insightful)

                by wild_quinine (998562) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:04AM (#25985773) Homepage

                In regards to spreading Windows viruses yeah I feel bad for Windows users but I won't spend my own money and processor cycles on worrying about their systems. If they want to protect their systems then they should take steps to protect themselves. They could also dump Windows and get an operating system that isn't so ridden with viruses and malware. That's their own choice and problem, not mine.

                To paraphrase: I'm one of those lucky people who's immune to AIDS. I just fuck anything. I mean, sure, I can carry AIDS, and I can pass it on. But since I can't get it, it's no problem of mine. The responsibility for that lies completely on the other side of the fence. Hey, but I've run out of posting time - another orgy to attend.

            • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Informative)

              by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:19PM (#25980573)

              fyi, it really is "viruses", not virii.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by AndGodSed (968378)

                Heh.

                I tried both in that post and virii seemed so... sophisticated.

                Imagine that, a geek with aspirations to being sophisticated.

                And then he gets it wrong...

          • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Piranhaa (672441) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:05PM (#25980283)

            That's one way of looking at it. Another way is hearing news that the East is infected with a certain illness that can't 'currently' affect Westerners. However, like with any viruses, they mutate constantly and can eventually cross over. So, in that sense, it can make sense to protect yourself with a vaccine.

            But, being properly aware is still much much better than what virus scanners can provide. Hell sometimes virus scanners cause more harm than good. System slow downs and wrongly detecting files as viruses when in fact they aren't are among reasons (just look what happened with AVG recently). I still don't run virus scanners on MY XP (Bootcamp) install, nor my main OSX install. I run an OpenBSD firewall, and am 'smart' when on the net. I, personally, don't ever really plan on running a virus scanner. If I'm opening a suspicious file, I'll simply create a snapshot of a Windows install, open the file and see if it does any damage. If I see ANY suspicious activity, I could simply revert to an old snapshot... Obviously this isn't (currently) a viable option for the general public, but I don't see it being too far off as pretty well all new computers come with Intel or AMD visualization technologies to allow speedy virtual machines.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by quarkscat (697644)
            And why would you PAY for anti-virus software, when even the big commercial AV vendors cannot protect against zero-day viruses? For Mac OS X, check out: ClamXAV and for other UNIXes try: ClamAV They are both based upon the same anti-virus scan engine, and both make use of anti-virus definition files which are updated DAILY (see "daily.cvd" on these websites. As far as the Mac OS X platform NOT being vulnerable - don't you believe it for one minute! I have a PPC-based Mac, a Ti Powerbook that is running 1
        • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Insightful)

          by revscat (35618) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:17PM (#25979467) Journal

          Maybe there aren't many (or any) viruses, worms and whatnot targeting the platform today, but they will come, and when they arrive, it will be a good idea to have some protection installed beforehand.

          People have been saying the same damn thing for 8 years. "Just wait, one day OS X will get a virus. You'll see."

          Ok, well, after hearing this for almost a decade I'm kinda starting to get skeptical.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dhavleak (912889)

            People have been saying the same damn thing for 8 years. "Just wait, one day OS X will get a virus. You'll see."

            Actually, people have been saying "One day, OS-X will have enough users that malware authors will target it the way they target Windows". That hasn't happened yet, but OS-X marketshare is trending upwards, so it might still happen.

            Also, please note the omission of "You'll see" and other such things. I don't want OS-X users to get viruses just so that my point gets proven. I do agree that in all likelihood if you run OS-X without an AV you'll be ok. That still doesn't negate the point -- OS-X does not have

            • Re:Safe... until (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:53PM (#25980087)

              Puh lease. For years there were far more Apache installations and they didn't get ass-raped the way IIS did/does.

              It has nothing to do with installation base and far more to do with idiot coding practices.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Macthorpe (960048)

                Yeah, it's not like Apache installations are mostly maintained by experienced sysadmins whereas Windows computers are maintained by every idiot and his grandma.

                Wow, it really is hard not to be sarcastic about this stuff.

                • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:42PM (#25981895)

                  The point I think he's trying to make is that, as of yet anyhow, OS X viruses and malware have to be explicitly let in through the front door via user stupidity (or just plain ignorance/don't know better). On the other hand, MS's track record has shown numerous ways for software to sneak onto your machine without user intervention whatsoever.

                  I personally think that OSX's sudo password prompt needs to be beefed up to show exactly what the app is attempting to access. If I'm installing some app that wants to add a file to /usr/bin, sure. If it wants to REMOVE a file I'd be a lot of more suspicious. As of right now both cases will simply show a nondescript "enter admin password" prompt, which is insufficient.

            • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Insightful)

              by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:14PM (#25980477) Homepage

              A) The idea that Windows only gets compromised because of its large market share isn't firmly founded. Even if you think it's true, it's far from being widely accepted.

              B) Even if OSX becomes just as frequently compromised as Windows, it still doesn't make sense to buy an Antivirus program now. Most AV packages rely on databases of known-viruses, and aren't very effective against new/unknown viruses. Therefore, even if you have AV software for your Mac, they won't detect any threats until after they're known. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to bother to install anything until after there are known threats for OSX, and there aren't any yet.

              So mostly, installing AV software on OSX will just use up resources and *maybe* help to protect Windows machines you're trading files with.

              Also, I don't know about you, but I evaluate AV software before I buy it for what's most efficient and effective at the time when I buy it. Until there are real threats against OSX, there's no way to measure how effective it is at protecting you from those threats, so there's nothing to recommend one package over another except for what uses the least resources. And do you know what uses the least resources? Having no AV software installed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nebu (566313)

            People have been saying the same damn thing for 8 years. "Just wait, one day OS X will get a virus. You'll see."

            Ok, well, after hearing this for almost a decade I'm kinda starting to get skeptical.

            I don't know about the people you've been hearing it from, but I am fairly confident that when/if OS X has a majority market share as a consumer OS, it will have viruses and other forms of malware. From a utilitarian point of view, if you're trying to create a botnet, it makes most sense to have your botnet target the most prevalent platform run by home users on the internet. In particular, you don't want to target the most prevalent platform run by system administrators, because they probably know how to t

        • Security updates (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jabbrwokk (1015725)

          Good point, after reading your post I ran Software Update on my Tiger machine at work and found a 72.5 MB security update waiting to be downloaded and installed.

          And most of the updates [apple.com] seem to be the kind of stuff that gets patched on Windows machines.

          I guess Apples and PCs have many of the same security issues, the difference is that fewer people care to exploit them on Macs and also that it's easier to take advantage of click-happy users on a Windows computer to pull off an exploit. "Durr... naked pictu

      • Re:Safe... until (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:11PM (#25979357)

        something that Apple politically couldn't say: Mac antivirus software primarily protects against Windows viruses

        Considering that Apple runs ads that directly state that "PCs" get viruses whereas "Macs" do not, I don't see why they would mind saying roughly the same thing in a tech note.* Seems to me that they have already taken a pretty visible stance on that political issue.

        That having been said, I suspect you are right: once this whole issue blew up, it was safer to completely distance themselves from the original tech note, rather than try and explain why they had originally issued it.

        [*] Conceivably the tech note was written by some lower-level employee who didn't want to say something controversial. So instead he/she left it vague and just suggested that "antivirus is a good idea" and so on.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:43PM (#25978941)

    First, that article had been there for quite some time [macnn.com] (but was just updated in the last week of November, when the IT press noticed it), and was just a generic recommendation for antivirus software on Mac OS X, and pointed at some third parties who provide such software. Second, the representative did NOT say "No Antivirus Needed"; on the contrary, the representative said antivirus software offers additional protection.

    Antivirus software has always been recommended in our environment on all systems, including Mac OS X. But the very real fact is that -- for whatever reasons, many of which can be argued to no end -- Macs have far less problems with malware and serious security vulnerabilities that have a real impact on users.

    As Macs are increasingly used in mixed environments, antivirus software is always prudent, as Mac antivirus software also recognizes and captures Windows viruses in addition to Mac, stopping inadvertent spread. For example, Symantec's full array of virus definitions for Windows and Mac OS are included in the definitions on both platforms.

    Malware exists for Mac OS X (and Mac OS before), and always has in various forms. Nearly all of them -- even the recent highly publicized cases -- are trojans requiring deliberate user interaction, and have no mechanism for mass-propagation. The proliferation of hardware- and software-based firewalls and other changes have helped the situation on all platforms.

    Porn video codec trojans requiring user interaction -- even as their prevalence increases as Mac marketshare grows -- do not rise to the level of vulnerabilities potentially allowing remote administrative control of all versions of Windows without any user interaction or knowledge, nor the massive worms of old costing untold manhours and untold billions in recovery and lost productivity.

    Macs have very real security problems, and Macs have malware specifically targeted at the platform. But for a variety of reasons, Mac OS X is, in a very real sense, a more secure computing platform with respect to malware. This does not mean there are not legitimate concerns and gripes, does not mean Apple has made some poor decisions with respect to security, and does not excuse gloating fanboys.

    But frankly, Mac users always should have been running some kind of antivirus software, even if only to prevent unknowing propagation of Windows malware, and institutions such as ours have recommended this as policy for years. But since Apple updated a knowledgebase article, and since the trend has been to give an inordinate level of coverage to any Mac security issue, however minor, I'm sure this will continue to be melodramatically blown out of proportion.

    Macs have far less problems with "malware" and related issues than Windows. Not all of this is only due to marketshare. Some is due to changing strategies of malware writers, new attacks on browsers and other cross-platform applications, increased attention to network security, better user education, and number of other factors. But even as Mac marketshare grows and the platform is increasingly targeted, there still have not been any high-impact massive issues with malware and/or severe security vulnerabilities as there have been on Windows.

    Apple has come a long way on security response from its attitudes even a couple of years ago, and still has a long way to go. But if a benign recommendation for AV software get blown up into a huge issue with media extrapolating that this must mean Apple is under heavy attack, and indeed, Apple may even be aware of an impending flood of malware, I'm not surprised Apple responded by simply pulling the article altogether. The perception in the marketplace is that Macs have a lot less problems with malware. That's completely accurate. Why would Apple want that correct perception tarnished by a bunch of sensationalism?

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:54PM (#25979103)

      Could you have maybe said that shorter? Something like "Hey, they're only suggesting that you wrap your system before practicing unsafe hex. But we have a lower rate of hexually transmitted malware than Windows. We do advise that you contact your vendor immediately if you have a software install lasting longer than four hours as this could indicate a more serious technical condition."

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Could you have maybe said that shorter?

        Don't read many of daveschroeder's posts, eh? He has a tendency to be a bit wordy, but much of what he has to say is actual useful information, especially relating to Macs, even if he is an Apple fanboy at heart. ;)

        • Truthfully, very little of what he has to say is actually that useful or informative. Dave's kind of an intellectually dishonest ass.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bennomatic (691188)

        Could you have maybe said that shorter?

        Yes.

    • by ericrost (1049312) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:04PM (#25979265) Homepage Journal

      Nice long post, but you have one MAJOR fallacy included:

      As Macs are increasingly used in mixed environments, antivirus software is always prudent, as Mac antivirus software also recognizes and captures Windows viruses in addition to Mac, stopping inadvertent spread. For example, Symantec's full array of virus definitions for Windows and Mac OS are included in the definitions on both platforms.

      Wrong. Totally wrong. Mac antivirus software ONLY scans for W32 viruses as those are the only payloads that there are definitions for. You run that as a dontation of CPU cycles to your clueless Windows running counterparts who can't be bothered to run an OS designed from the ground up for multi-user networked security (like Linux, BSD, or as a result, MacOS)

      • Wrong. Totally wrong. Mac antivirus software ONLY scans for W32 viruses as those are the only payloads that there are definitions for. You run that as a dontation of CPU cycles to your clueless Windows running counterparts who can't be bothered to run an OS designed from the ground up for multi-user networked security (like Linux, BSD, or as a result, MacOS)

        Mac antivirus software from vendors like Symantec, Sophos, and Intego all include definitions for malware specifically designed for Windows and Mac OS X

      • by radish (98371) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:35PM (#25979761) Homepage

        Wrong. Totally wrong. A cursory search of the Symantec (for example) DB shows a number of Mac specific attack signatures, including a fun looking AppleScript mass-mailing worm, an OS-level buffer overflow vuln, etc. A tiny minority of the total, sure, but not zero.

        OS designed from the ground up for multi-user networked security (like Linux, BSD, or as a result, MacOS)

        Pull the other one, it's got bells on! BSD I can maybe buy, but Linux is no more "designed from the ground up for multi-user networked security" than XP. Single root user with unlimited power and an unchangable ID? Overly coarse-grained FS ACLs? The problem with Windows isn't the design (at least, not in anything post-NT), it's the fact that most installations intentionally defeat the security model to make things "easier".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brkello (642429)
        If you really think Linux and Macs are safe because they are "designed from the ground up for multi-user networked security", then you don't know what you are talking about. It may be more secure than other OS's...but if you are connected to a network, you are not safe. Mac zealots need to stop thinking and telling other people they are immune because they use this OS. It is ridiculous and will only make it that much harder to get "clueless" Mac users to properly use their computer.

        And it isn't that peo
    • by fermion (181285)
      The reason for antivirus on the mac is the same for universal inoculation. If everything is inoculated, then the virus will tend to no longer be a problem. With Macs not inoculated, even though macs may be immune, the could be a vector.

      Because of this many, including me, have chosen not to use malware detectors, not wishing to sacrifice the money, the cycles, the headache of updating, the headache of flaky software. This does, however, leave macs as a potential target if anyone feels like taking the ti

    • by Graff (532189) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:37PM (#25979797)

      Here's a better article [informationweek.com] that's less inflammatory and also contains a statement directly from Apple:

      "We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," an Apple spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100% immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection."

      Sounds a bit more reasonable than the story text posted here on Slashdot.

  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheLostSamurai (1051736) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:43PM (#25978945)
    If you're on the internet, you're vulnerable. Period.
    • Your use of "the internet" is rather open. Does an internet user need to listen for connections from others to be considered as one? Any time a network daemon is listening for connections, it is vulnerable to potential code exploits.

      Relying on targets to first connect to you in order to initiate an attack seems overly difficult (even tedious), although it would still be possible.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Funny)

      by Henry V .009 (518000) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:52PM (#25979083) Journal

      If you're on the internet, you're vulnerable. Period.

      I browse the web using telnet. Sometimes I do have to break out my calculator to handle https sites.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I browse the web using telnet. Sometimes I do have to break out my calculator to handle https sites.

        You jest, but having written several web server applications in the past, I have essentially had to browse web sites via a console interface in order to debug my programs. You actually get used to reconstructing the web page in your head, much like web developers can see their sites when writing code.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      If you're on the internet, you're vulnerable. Period.

      You're so right. Hackers really have true digital power. If you don't believe hackers have true digital power, you better get a life right now or they'll hack your computer off the Internet! Hackers flip out and hack computers ALL the time. They are also mammals.

    • True. I've even seen Thinclients running embedded Windows get infected. Management had been fed a line that "thinclients can't get infected because there's no hard drive" as a major selling point. They were really surprised by the pricetag for a mountain of usb memory sticks with OS updates, and the third party labor to make lots of roadtrips.
  • "Apple quietly makes up its mind"?

    Seriously, though. There might not be much out there in the wild, but it would certainly nice to see all computer come with anti-virus software that checks for the virii of other platforms, to reduce overall infection rates.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      brilliant idea!

      only thing is, apple fanboys wouldn't be able to criticize PCs as much for having viruses--the more viruses on PCs, the more macs get sold

  • Overhyped (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xav_jones (612754)
    The whole story about Apple encouraging anti-virus software was severely over-hyped anyway. There are malicious bits out there that will damage your system if you do something stupid, like install a Trojan or run an untrusted Office macro. OS X is still quite secure out-of-the-box and *this* is where it is most different to Microsoft's offerings.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:45PM (#25978983) Homepage Journal

    I mean is there? Anti-virus programs work by looking for specific code. If that code doesn't exists yet what does it look for? Windows viruses?

    • by denzacar (181829)

      Did you buy that 5-digit Slashdot ID?
      Sure there are. A LOT fewer but there have always been some out there. [iantivirus.com]

      Only reason that there aren't that many is low market share. Writing viruses for Windows is more cost effective.

      • by revscat (35618) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:28PM (#25979631) Journal
        The page you linked to shows malware, not viruses. No system is immune to malware. And as far as viruses are concerned, there has never an OS X virus. Ever.

        And the market share thing has been debunked time and time again. You think that if virus writers could capture 100% of 8% of the market that they wouldn't have done so sometime in the past 8 years?

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        I looked at that page and I saw mainly malware not viruses per say. Also if you look a good number of them are not even for OS/X some are for System 6.
        It does look like there are some threats but they are pretty few and far it would seem.

  • PR move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:48PM (#25979013)
    I guess this is knee-jerk reaction to bad PR. Really, the way most viruses work today, Windows machines are the most susceptible. OS X (and other BSD based OS) and Linux are based on different design principles and mostly immune to viruses. Trojans are probably more likely for these systems. I think having a virus check now and then is beneficial in removing those Windows viruses that manage to get onto a Mac so they don't become repositories.
    • Really, the way most viruses work today, Windows machines are the most susceptible.

      Nice of you to put in that qualifier. Because you know, if MacOS ruled the world they of course wouldn't have tons of hackers picking it apart to find a weakness to exploit. I suppose it would be because the lack of a right mouse button would make developing software impossible... Or they'd be so confused by the dogcow their head would explode. The malware writers go where the money is and the money is on Windows.

      It's the same as me saying "Well, OS/2 is the most secure operating system, or DOS, or BeOS, be

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by prockcore (543967)

      OS X (and other BSD based OS) and Linux are based on different design principles and mostly immune to viruses.

      OSX might be immune to worms, it is *not* immune to viruses.

      Here is how OSX is wide open to viruses: I put out a shareware app that does something useful on the mac. When you download and run the program, it first infects a random app in your applications folder, like iTunes, then does whatever it was supposed to do. When you next run iTunes, it too infects a random app in your applications folder,

  • Not actual validation, but a good starting point for Apple's argument:
    http://milw0rm.com/platforms/osX [milw0rm.com]

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:53PM (#25979089)
    He was separating out the false believers from the flock.
  • by NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:56PM (#25979139) Homepage
    Lately I've seen a few of these posts on various sites. I think it's the case of Apple being big enough and successful enough over the past few years that they fall into the same category as Google, Microsoft, etc.: no longer a cute underdog, no longer immune from attacks. There's always been some anti-Apple sentiment ("one button mouse!" etc.), but lately it seems more pointed and directed, more tactical.
  • by secmartin (1336705) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:59PM (#25979179)
    Actually, they are still recommending the use of antivirus. Cnet [cnet.com] quotes an Apple spokesperson saying:

    The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection.

    Windows Vista is full of "protection", but I use antivirus on that as well. I love MacOS X, and I'm sure it's more secure, but there will be viruses and other malware on MacOS sooner or later.

    By the way, isn't it ironic that Apple is still offering ClamXav for download on their own website [apple.com]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      By the way, isn't it ironic that Apple is still offering ClamXav for download on their own website?

      Look! They're also promoting software piracy!!! [apple.com]

      In case you don't get it, providing links for software some people may find useful is not the same thing as endorsing it.
    • by daveywest (937112)
      I'll admit I'm a fanboi, but seriously, when was the last time you had a virus on a Mac? I think I had an infected zip disk when I was using System 9. Most antivirus software will identify signatures of known viruses or virus like behavior. Since there aren't any know viruses for the Mac to date, what is their software doing other than protecting my wallet from getting fat?
  • Reimburse (Score:3, Funny)

    by grapes911 (646574) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:13PM (#25979395)
    And who's going to reimburse me for the 7 AV programs I just ordered?
  • That's what I've been using with various versions of Windows the last 12 years and I've never had any problems.

  • Nobody (Score:3, Funny)

    by speroni (1258316) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:29PM (#25979655) Homepage

    MAC: Can't even get negative attention.

    Picture [ctrlaltdel-online.com]

  • Even if they were safe before, they won't be for long. That's just asking for it!
  • by unix_geek_512 (810627) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:45PM (#25979951)

    C'mon apple, get real!

    Everyone needs anti-virus software these days!

    Apple, Linux, *BSD and Unix included.

    I don't care what apple or anyone else says, you need all the protection you can get.

    I have been using anti-virus software on *nix systems for years and will continue to do so.

    Semper Fi!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Would you mind sharing what software you use? All of the antivirus software I'm aware of for Linux or *BSD is designed to look for Windows viruses/malware. Good for cleaning up my neighbor's computer from a live USB but not so useful for protecting any of my *nix boxen.
  • The strength of Mac (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi@smoking c u be.be> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:57PM (#25980167) Homepage

    The strength of Mac against viruses lays solely in the use of very stable FOSS solutions for the basics (very close to stable Debian versions) and then building on top of that (Aqua, CoreAudio, CoreImage etc. don't have any links to sockets). Really, what services CAN lay bare on a Mac to the internet: SSH (OpenSSH), E-mail (Postfix), Webserver (Apache). On the program side, you have Safari (Webkit) or Mozilla with Flash (Adobe) or Java (Sun) and those don't come above user level without requiring extreme interaction from the user (passwords). There is no such thing as ~/Library/StartupItems or ~/Library/LaunchDaemons and you need to become root to put stuff in /Library.

    Of course as soon as a vulnerability is reported the community fixes it which trickles down to other vendors like Apple, RedHat etc. and many of those vulnerabilities for Apache or Postfix are hardly exploitable or only for rare setups (usually buffer overflows which could lead to an exploit if somebody was savvy enough to analyze all of them and see where they have space enough to load their own stuff and then call it too).

    To have a successful attack on a Mac would also mean that you can successfully attack Linux or other Unixes or it would require a serious bug in certain programs (like Safari or Mail) which also allows to unnoticeable have a huge payload to replace things like Safari with a 'hacked' version or implement a plugin that does something weird.

    • It may or may not be true that the various network daemons installed on most Mac OS X installs are 'secure' (I'll go with the premise for the time, but, really, who knows what currently undiscovered vulnerabilities therein lie? Yes, that applies for the same daemons installed on any Unix), but really, what protects Macs from the same kind of user 'tricking' that are commonly used against windows users.

      Things like:

      * A website of, err, questionable repute, which tells you that you need to download and run an

  • by macs4all (973270) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:08PM (#25980341)
    Does ANYONE RTFA?

    Oh, I forgot! This is Slashdot.

    Apple pulled the tech note because it was OUTDATED, not because they wanted to "censor" it.

    The "real" question is "Why was this a 'story' in the first place?" I believe it was 'planted' by Microsoft, to attempt to derail serious holiday Mac purchasing, by sowing the seeds of FUD.

    Show me even ONE true worm-type virus for OS X, and I will entertain the idea that there is something "there".

    Until then, it's just disingenuous FUD. (Which I think is the only kind of FUD available)...
  • Something to try: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kuzb (724081) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:22PM (#25980641)

    Next time you think operating system XYZ is so secure that nothing unwanted can get in, go to defcon [defcon.org], turn on your laptop and it's wifi and connect to the local access point. I give you 10 minutes before someone is downloading all your porn.

    People who think anything is immune on a network are laughable.

  • by Tokerat (150341) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:44PM (#25981923) Journal
    Well, they did [about.com] under the old cooperative multitasking "old world" Macintosh System Software.

    I'm suprised that no one mentioned that we Mac users had a virus known as Oompa-Loompa [about.com] starting on Valentine's Day, 2006.

    I found this stuff on About.com! C'mon, people! Firefox even has a Google Quicksearch built right in! Ctrl-L "google mac viruses" enter. No mouse even required.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

Working...