There are no viruses for Apple’s Mac OS X

“It may or may not surprise you, but there are no OS X viruses (or worms or trojans), partly due to the implementation of OS and its almost-inaccessible Root,” Graham K. Rogers writes for The Bangkok Post. “Most Mac users never need Root access. We use Administrator privileges, and if Root is needed for installation of an application or for alterations to the system — what a virus would need to do — a user must enter a password. This physically and consciously acknowledges an event (and its consequences).”

Rogers writes, “Mac naysayers would have us believe there are no viruses because there are so few Macs (this also applies to Linux and Unix platforms), although that could change with the Mac mini. If the numbers of viruses for Windows keeps on growing (as of January this year, there were a total of 68,736 viruses detected, according to Symantec), the Mac may come in for some attention. There is no point spending all your time virus-writing, however, if viruses will not work.”

Rogers writes, “The only problem on OS X is from macros with Microsoft products and from mail attachments. These do not harm the Mac environment but may damage a Windows computer if sent.”

Full article here.

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23 Comments

  1. Rogers writes, “The only problem on OS X is from macros with Microsoft products and from mail attachments. These do not harm the Mac environment but may damage a Windows computer if sent.”

    Here is another good reason to switch to a Mac.

  2. He’s a newspaper tech writer. He’s just saying to Microsoft, “I’m here and until you pay me I will continue to tell the truth about Macs”.

  3. Forgive me for asking, but…

    Don’t you think that out of 68,736 potential virus writers, at least one of them would write a trojan/malware knowing that at least a few bungle heads would willfully give out their admin password and install a virus into OS X ?????

    Obviously it hasn’t happened or maybe it has… but not enough Bungle Heads out there did give their admin passwords to move along towards a “critical mass” where it can survive in the wild.

    Hmmm…. so lets say that in theory, every Mac user was a Bungle Head and blissfully installed every attachment they were sent. Would this be enough to create a critical mass? The answer lies with another variable. Viruses propogate by accessing a users address book, right? So how many addresses in a Mac Users Address book is the email address to another Macintosh computer? Hmmmmm…. I know I’m at the fray here, but this is the only criteria that is a-kin to the security through obscurity myth. Every Mac user would have to have at least one other Mac user in his/her address book to propagate a virus and that Mac User would also have to be a Bungle Head.

    So, therefore even if you were a complete moron, chances are that the Mac Computer users in your Address book are not idiots and a virus outbreak would be short lived.

    But at this time and day, why has no one even stepped forward to say that they thought that maybe they were sent a Mac-centric Virus, but refused to give the root password!? That’s what i find mysterious.

  4. i like his article…
    except for his statement that there are no ‘trojans’ for OS X. A trojan can rely simply on user stupidity, not OS security.

    There certainly ARE trojans available for OS X. Anybody remember the sudo issue just a few weeks ago???

    Mac OS X is a million times more secure than windows, but NO computer is secure unless it is unplugged from all networks/access/power/etc… Let’s not put Macs on such a high platform that they can only “fall” (MDN-MW)

  5. maybe i’m just flat out wrong, but I think writing a virus for OS X would be the creme de la creme in virus writing these days.

    I’m not a psychologist by any means, but I’m guessing most virus writers do it for publicity and fame. What more fame would there be if you wrote the 1ST true, dangerous (I don’t think the other “threats” count) virus for an operating system? If I wrote virii, I would only spend my efforts on OS X. These are just my opinions and may be way off, but with all these “No virii for OS X” articles coming out, a lot of hackers are going to notice.

    I welcome such a challenge for OS X.

  6. I’ve been mulling something over in my mind for a while and this topic seems like the appropriate place to bring it up.

    If (now go with me here for a minute, dispite the unrealistic possibility)
    MicroWorst managed to discover THE magic bullet that rendered all
    mal-ware caput, what would we use then as an argument to promote the Mac over WinBlows?

    Now, I’m not talking about generalities here like “easier to use” or “cooler”, no, I’m looking for specifics.

    I was thinking about listing “less prone to crashes”, but would that really still be so true if WinBlows wasn’t subjected to buggy mal-ware anymore?

    I’m just asking, because I want to be able to make a case for Mac over MicroShit that doesn’t always rely so heavily on the mal-ware issue. We must have more going for us that just that.

    Not ever having been a WinDoz user, I really can’t speak from a first person perspective when doing a feature/feature, capability/capability comparison.

    Comments? Thoughts?

  7. “There are no viruses for Apple’s Mac OS X”

    Great achievement. Really!

    But the main reason is because it is based on Unix.

    Apple did a very sensible thing moving to a unix based platform.

    Other than that decision I dont see why Mac fans are so excited that they are shouting from the rooftops…

    I know the guys are excited becoz there are no viruses for Macs, but seriously, you should be thanking Unix for that.

  8. Rara Avis: THERE ARE viruses for UNIX.

    There are not for OS X, without beleaguering Unix. And Unix is a very general term. The wise decision was to go BSDUnix that has a great record security-wise, although NOT zero viruses for it.

    Actually, the very first viruses were for Unix. Windows was not even there.
    Then Windows came and it was so frigging easy to write viruses for it and crack it that people started to play with it. AND, it had nothing to do with market share or presence: Windows became target #1 when Unix was predominant and Windows a puny single digit presence on the market.

  9. McAfee detects first Linux Virus.”
    — IT headlines, February 7, 1997

    Headlines screamed “Linux virus” on February 7, 1997, as it was “proved” that a virus for Linux could be written. The virus source was posted on several sites, after the compressed tar file had been byte swapped, uuencoded and rot13’ed, apparently so that curious novices could not inadvertently use it. The virus was blissfully called Bliss. “Vaccines” appeared promptly from various sources on the Internet, including an all too happy McAfee.

    Note that there was an earlier “virus” for Linux, calle Staog, that used buffer overflow vulnerabilities in mount and tip, and a bug in suidperl, to try to gain root access.

    In any case, Unix viruses are not that new, and they were not invented in 1997. We saw earlier that Cohen created some experimental Unix viruses. Here is a note from Dennis Ritchie on Unix viruses:

    “A few years ago Tom Duff created a very persistent UNIX virus. At that point we had about 10-1 th or 9th edition VAX 750s networked together. The virus lived in the slack space at the end of the executable, and changed the entry point to itself. When the program was executed, it searched the current directory, subdirectories, /bin, /usr/bin for writable, uninfected files and then infected them if there was enough space.”

    Still, no OS X viruses. Sure, it has great ground base but not a NO-VIRUS ground base.

    Cheers

  10. Rara Avis: “Great achievement. Really!”

    Actually, the great achievement is from Microsoft. After all, with Windows they are the only one OS to give breeding grounds for all types of viruses, trojans, worms, malware of every possible kind.

    I mean, you MUST really want to do that in order to be able to provide such a great support for a large variety of software from all over the world. And they are as well backward and forward compatible: write a virus for Windows 98 and it infect Windows XP as well. Which other OS can give you such a performance, really?!

  11. jcw: we keep PCs virus and malware free. Crash the same and corrupt register the same, and freeze the same, and people have to reboot when change network, lock-ons, etc etc

    virus is a minor thing really. No one gets a virus here really and people are switching a lot.

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