Viruses don’t have to be a fact of life; there are no viruses on Apple’s Mac OS X – not a single one

“After your identity has been stolen, your bank accounts compromised, 53 critical patches and 27 reboots later, when will you decide that you’ve had enough? It’s so easy to become accustomed to technology and all its failings, where viruses, trojans and such have become a fact of life — for Microsoft Windows users, at least. We’ve come to accept the countless virus infections, the Trojan that steals passwords, and the loss of an average user’s identity as inevitable and acceptable, and it makes me wonder if we’re taking our users down the right path,” Kelly Martin writes for SecurityFocus.

“Same old story? Not really. Alternative environments like Apple [Macintosh] and Linux are finally catching on. Unit sales of Apple Computer’s OS X based computers grew by 43% in the past quarter, over the same time last year — in business terms, that’s incredible growth,” Martin writes.

“What’s fueling Apple’s growth, besides the infamous iPod halo effect? Security. Either it’s the perceived security that is thought to be better in OS X, or it’s the documented lack of security in the Windows world. By that, I mean that you can’t assume everyone who owns Genuine Windows is running XP with Service Pack 2, which has some improved security features — because there are a few hundred million people out there still running Windows 2000, 98, or something else. No, they don’t have automatic updates, and no, they may never understand what a firewall is. Anyone who works hands-on in the security field has his own experience spending countless hours removing viruses and spyware, or becoming adept at formatting and reinstalling (or laying down a new image), patching, immunizing, and so on. Whether it’s in your large corporate environment or your Uncle Bob’s computer at home, it all takes time,” Martin writes.

“Viruses don’t have to be a fact of life. There are no viruses on OS X — not a single one. The reason most often touted is Apple’s lack of critical mass, but that argument has been beaten to death. There are millions of OS X computers out there,’ Martin writes. “Why, then, are there no viruses for OS X?”

“Just as Windows users have become accustomed to 140,000 viruses, Apple users have become accustomed to none. It’s a major cultural difference that admittedly, sometimes causes Apple users to do stupid things — and get away with them. It’s hard to describe the freedom of using a system with no malware known to have spread. It’s liberating,” Martin writes.

“Beyond critical mass, I would like to believe there’s a better reason for the lack of viruses on OS X, and it’s based on the culture of the Mac — which is distinctly different from other platforms. Is it wrong to try a new computer system and actually enjoy the user experience, for a change? Can you imagine a world where (today) you can click on anything and never worry about malicious intent? Can we not continue this unwritten rule that there can be a platform out there that is simple, easy-to-use, with Unix (and a cool ports tree) underneath that has no threat at all from viruses? Perhaps I’m living in a pipe dream, but that reality is here today. Linux is also close, but OS X is already there. Perhaps Apple’s big virus is really just the market enthusiasm that translate to new unit sales, spread like a contagion, that fuels their 70% year-over-year revenue growth,” Martin writes.

There is much more in the full article, which we highly recommend, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Finally had enough? For our Windows-only friends, there is a better way, so for more information about smoothly adding a safe, secure, powerful, and fun Mac OS X machine to your computing arsenal, please click here. If we may be so forward, you might want to take a look at Apple’s new Mac Mini which starts at just US$499 — it just might be the perfect machine for you. And don’t forget to bump the RAM up to 512MB, you’ll want it.

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27 Comments

  1. Now everyone will wonder “was this person paid to write this glowing article”. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Where does he get the “140,000 viruses” figure for Windows?

    In any event, I like this part the most:

    “. . . Apple’s big virus is really just the market enthusiasm that translate to new unit sales, spread like a contagion . . .”

    Yes, I like that part very, very much. So does my portfolio. So does the Mac user inside me.

    Now I just wish that mainstream publications like Time, Newsweek, or any of the others would carry this type of story. It would be soooo powerful.

  3. After the stock fiasco a couple years ago that made news companies reveal who their parents and affiliates were or any investments they may have in the subject at hand, I won’t be surprised to see articles starting out with “I was not payed or compensated for writing this article other than my standard wage or freelance fees”

  4. This is the same conversation I have with my Patcher friends, ad finitum. It’s like telling smokers, “If you quit smoking you’ll extend your life and have a better quality of life.” And they agree with you as they light up another menthol 100.

    My experience is that people have to see it to believe it, hear say isn’t good enough. Until they get their fat little hands on the product, it’s just words in one ear and out the other. If you want to convert someone, put the product in their hands.

  5. you know, I’m sorry but please NEVER say this again “Viruses don’t have to be a fact of life; there are no viruses on Apple’s Mac OS X – not a single one” because when one does appear people will be laughing in our faces. I cringe when I hear that just for pure logic that one could STILL be made.

  6. I’m glad MDN continues to add that 512 megs is a necessary upgrade for the mini. I just upgraded to 1 GB and can’t believe the difference in performance. My mini FLIES now.

  7. There will never be a Mac OS X virus, AC. Stop waiting for the “first one”; you’re wasting your time… How could a virus ever spread when an admin password would be required to let it do its work?

  8. I know (MW) what this guy is saying, but I think he is taking things a little far.

    He says “you can click on anything and never worry about malicious intent”…

    Knowing a thing or two about the Mac, I’d never encourage anyone to be this lax about security issues. How hard would it be to bundle a malicious piece of code (note: NOT a virus, just a simple ‘rm -rf /’ ) in with some content you’re offering on a P2P network, free software, pirated movies/mp3’s, etc…

    You’d better worry about malicious content. Not doing so is simply ignorance and arrogance – exactly what is needed to exploit the weakest link on OS X, the USERS!!!

  9. To MDN:

    Please allow expert with objectivity like the author of this article on “theRegister.co.uk” to be listen to. Do not spoil good articles with your 3rd grade comments.

    One consistent article like this one does more than a site like yours full of crap ad banners.

  10. Bob,
    I agree with AC… No system is fail-safe.
    What if there is a virus that exploits IE on OS X? Or another application that doesn’t have the default security that OS X does?
    There’s more than one way to skin a cat!! (pun intended)

  11. Bob,
    Do you ever use the Terminal? have you ever used the ‘sudo’ command? this command temporarily authenticates you as ‘root’, the all-powerful UNIX user.

    now, surf over to http://forums.macrumors.com/ and take a look at the topic over there regarding this issue. (or go to MSJ’s security section) A proff-of-concept code has been introduced that could be packaged with anything (application/mp3/mov/etc.) that spawns a process which waits for you to manually sudo, or for your system to automatically switch to root (for the daily/weekly/monthly scripts, etc.) or for you to authenticate when installing some other software, etc.

    once you do that, it hijacks your root authentication, and can do whatever is possible from there. now, this is NOT a virus. It is a security issue though. More likely classified as a trojan, because it requires a user’s stupidity to get started…

    how to fix it? Wait for Apple or IF you know vi, go to terminal and type ‘visudo /etc/sudoers’ without the quotes. In the “defaults” section, add these lines:
    Defaults:ALL !syslog
    Defaults:ALL logfile=/var/log/secure.log
    Defaults:ALL timestamp_timeout=0
    Defaults:ALL tty_tickets

    this will :
    stop processes from viewing additions to the secure.log, which tracks the usage of sudo
    remove the 5-minute sudo grace period
    limits sudo the individual ttys, instead of global authentication.

    good luck.

  12. tommy, I agree that the user is the weakest link, and that malicious software is a real threat. Asking for Admin privileges to install something that intuitively shouldn’t require such is (or SHOULD be) a red flag. Windows users are (from what I understand) de-sensitized to this though, because so many programs *do* demand Admin rights (so many that a lot of users run with them by default… a recipe for disaster) – a result of poor programming, either by the App author (laziness) or Microsoft (over-restrictive).

    That said, it’s always wise to keep an eye on things. Running tcpdump or ethereal the first time you fire up any given application isn’t a bad idea, for example. And *always* question why something asks for a password. Common sense…

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