$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus

“All, right, I’m sick of people reporting that Mac OS X is ‘mostly’ virus-free. It is, as far has been proven, ENTIRELY virus-free. Macs are not magical, and one day there will be virus that infects them. However, I don’t think it’s happened yet, and I think it’s time we, the Mac community, started saying, ‘No, we don’t have any viruses,” Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster fame writes in his blog “Call Me Fishmeal.”

“Let me be clear: not having had a virus is NOT the same as being immune to viruses. I think part of the reason almost nobody has been willing to stand up on this crusade has been that we get shouted down with cries of, ‘Well, no OS is perfect; Mac OS X will get its virus!’ And I have no doubt we will. But Windows gets a virus every freaking week, and we’ve never had ONE. I think that’s also relevant,” Shipley writes.

“I’ll admit, others have come up with the idea of offering a bounty for Mac OS X viruses before, but I think those plans failed due to the way the challenge was structured. I don’t want to incite someone to create the first Mac OS X virus,” Shipley writes. “I’m going to offer a bounty of $500 to the first person who can prove that a Mac running Mac OS X (version 10.0 or greater, and patched to the latest security level available at the time from Apple) was accidentally and detrimentally infected with a virus that exploited a flaw in the base Mac OS X installation (not, say, Microsoft Word) before September 20, 2005. The definition of ‘virus’ will for this contest will be either a virus or worm as described by the wikipedia. The challenge ends at 23:59:00, October 16, 2005.”

Shipley writes, “I will only offer this bounty once, and as you can see, the deadline for the viruses to have done their dirty work is in the past. So, if you’re planning to write a new virus just to win the challenge, well… that won’t work unless you also make a time machine. (Which, frankly, I’d be willing to fund for $500.) This is a research project, not a programming project: find one of us who has been infected at some time, and tell the world about it.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As regular readers know, we call writers on their descriptions of Mac OS X as “mostly virus-free” whenever we see it happening. Mac OS X to date has had no (zero) known viruses.

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Apple hires Delicious Monster co-founder, user interface designer – July 22, 2005

Symantec: 10,866 new Microsoft Windows virus and worm variants in first half 2005 – September 19, 2005
Cargo magazine describes Apple’s Mac OS X’s immunity to viruses, spyware as ‘relative’ – September 10, 2005
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Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
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ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
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Apple touts Mac OS X security advantages over Windows – April 13, 2005
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42 Comments

  1. “…was accidentally and detrimentally infected with a virus that exploited a flaw in the base Mac OS X installation”

    I’m glad to see he clarified.

    From what I know, Macs can harbor and transmit a virus. These will be found and cleaned when running anti-virus software. However, no damage will be done and as claimed the Mac is immune. I think those who have in the past reported a virus on their Mac have had confusion on this issue.

  2. Look! Mac OS X is great, but its not full proof in regards to security, no operating system is. Windows just happens to be an easy target, so crackers go after that system mostly. Though OS X is BSD-based and BSD having a really awesome security track record as compared to Windows and Linux, it surely doesn’t mean it can’t be cracked.

  3. I’m don’t see how this will work.

    If someone did in fact have a virus, they probably would have removed it long ago while trying to fix their computer.

    And how would a person even know they had a virus? Since there are no known OS X viruses, an antivirus program wouldn’t be able to identify it. So there’s no proof you had it unless you still happened to have the source code, which is pretty doubtful if it was giving your computer problems.

    Let’s say you have the source code saved somewhere, how do you prove that it infected your computer prior to 9-20, especially if you’ve fixed your computer a long time ago? Additionally, how do you prove that your computer was accidentally infected (as opposed to maliciously uploaded)?

    Unless I’m missing something, it seems like this guy has created enough filters to prevent anyone from being able to claim the bounty.

  4. I’m split on this subject. We have current bragging rights to a virus-free platform, but I don’t think we should be openly encouraging any negative development on the platform, and regardless of the “structure” of this contest, it is doing just that. Let’s get back to building great applications, of which the Mac has many and needs more.

  5. I’m offering a $500 for the first person that develops the next mind-blowing, eye-candied OmniGraffle-class Mac-only application for collaborative project management. It has to be full-featured and ready for market. The deadline for this bounty is Oct. 31st, 2005. Contact me by email if you’re interested.

  6. Re: “correct me if I’m wrong…”

    That’s the whole point. Nobody will be able to prove they had a virus so the bounty will never be paid. This is simply to raise awareness that there are no viruses, period. But it is still a challenge to someone with the balls to create one.

  7. Yeah, like anyone is going to waste there time on a 500 dollar gift card to the apple store just to create a virus or something..Thats Gay…Really Gay.

    Here guys work for hours and hours and days maybe even months for 500 dollah.

    Puh-Lease.

    I would rather someone offer like 100k. then it would happen for sure.

  8. I know there is an FBI commission that investigates malicious computer viruses. Would offering $500 dollars for a virus be the same as paying for any othe illegal activity. I think that constitutes a felony. People look at cyber crimes that dont involve identity theft as meaningless. I read a disturbing poll on CNN.com in which people overwhelmingly supported stealing WiFi service. I dont get it? Many people stated there reason was because they should have secured their connection. Basically if the connection is open then it is free game. So does that mean that if I check around the parking lot and your car door is unlocked then I am okay to take everything inside. Or if I check houses in your neighborhood and if your doors and windows aren’t locked then anything inside is free. As long as it is cyber no one cares. The world is burying itself morally.

  9. I don’t get why so many people care about whether other people think OS X can get viruses or not. It’s almost like people’s personal ego and sense of pride is being attacked when someone casually says that the Mac is relatively virus free. Unless you work at Apple or sell Apple products, I just don’t see why you would care so much.

    People like this guy end up sounding arrogant. What’s the point in bragging about something like this anyway? Do people actually feel better about themselves when they brag about Apple? Is their self confidence somehow linked to Apple’s stock price or something? Get real people. I love my Mac because it doesn’t give me problems, but that’s no reason for me to spend my life defending or evangelizing everything Apple.

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