Anti-Mac FUD machine shifts into overdrive

“Apple can’t have it both ways. It can stay niche and relatively virus free or it can join the mainstream and enter the virus zone. Apple made the latter choice when it decided to move its Macintosh range of computers to the Intel chipset platform,” Stan Beer reports for iTWire. “Not only do potential hackers know the Intel platform well, but Apple’s choice to play in the Windows space has made it a target like every other PC vendor. However, Windows is not Apple’s only security problem. Neither is the growing evidence that even the Mac range’s native operating system Mac OSX is becoming an increasingly vulnerable target for malware purveyors.”

“The big problem for Apple would appear to be one of denial. Recently reported remarks of Apple’s senior vp of software technology, Bud Tribble, can attest to that,” Beer reports. “According to Tribble, Mac OSX is designed to be used without the need for firewalls or anti-virus software. That remark alone should ring alarm bells in the minds of all security conscious online Mac users.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s obviously making a lot of people very nervous.

BTW, this article was intentionally posted from a Mac OS X machine that has never had the Firewall on in any version of Mac OS X and never had a virus or bit of spyware despite surfing the Web far and wide for over five years and counting. An aside: we thought you might like to know that one of MacDailyNews’ mainstay machines is a Power Mac G4 450 MHz (AGP graphics) with 1.12 GB RAM, an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro, and three fast hard drives (10GB, 80GB, 120-GB) that has run every version of Mac OS X from the Public Beta to its current Mac OS X 10.4.6 without the Firewall on to see if anything happens (nothing has so far). Few machines online that are operated by human surfers venture to as many web sites each day as this Mac. The machine is four months shy of turning seven years old, yet it is perfectly capable of running the current Mac OS X version and performs admirably, day in and day out, without a hitch. The machine has never been “wiped and restored.” Many of the posts you see on MacDailyNews come from this machine. The Mac is an example of many things: superior security versus Windows, high quality in both hardware and software, massive reliability, an illustration of the vast difference between installed base and market share, and — we’ll close with just four more words — Total Cost of Ownership.

[Disclaimer: In general, we recommend that you turn on your Mac OS X Firewall and use common sense by not clicking on unknown email attachments or downloading files from sites you do not know or trust.]

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51 Comments

  1. Jooop, the reason why people says Apple is going to be more vulnerable now with Intel has its roots in a partial truth but as usual pundits and technical journalists misinterpret the issue.

    The culprit lies on how buffer overflows (a weakness in the OS code) do operate: they succeed to put instructions into the stack which, being executable in Intel (limited support for non-executable stack): the hardware instructions do not differentiating between data access vs execute, so anything readable to a process as data is executable by the process as code: bingo, virus instructions are run.
    In Windows the stack is executable.

    OS X supports non-executable mappings on platforms where the hardware allows it. This happens with the Intel Core Solo and Duo. The support is there: Process stack and heap mappings are made non-executable by default when you are on OS X. This makes exploiting potential buffer overflows harder.

    No compile-time option is needed to enable this software support, it’s always available.

    If you run Windows, well, virus business as usual.

    This makes for people writing articles touting Apple being more vulnerable in Intel now. So yes, it has to do with the OS software but the exploit is a limited support on i386 family. OS X exploits the Core Duo capabilities. I wonder why Windows does not even try: maybe they have part of the OS that rely on having the stack executable so they can’t do that and have to keep the vulnerability. Windows does that and other things in order to work. It is a catch-22 in Redmont: either they make Windows more secure – but then it stops working properly – or they keep it in a workable state but then it is prone to attacks.

    To give headaches to those poor MS engineers.

  2. When are you guys going to quit your fantasy that you can have both? A Mac running on intel = a boon to all those virus, spyware, adware, and other invasion software makers. And, get ready to wipe and restore on frequent basis.

    Apple is a hardware and tunes company that really doesn’t care about its own OS anymore.

    What advantage is it to you to be the company’s biggest FUD promoter?

  3. I have anti-virus and firewall protection on the Intel iMac (and not one of the PC-ports either, I go with native Mac architecture from Intego) — I’ve maybe had one or two virus definition updates since I installed it a couple of months ago (shortly after I brought the machine home and got it set up).

    My dad-in-law has McAfee on his PC, and gets new virus definitions practically every week.

    Again, it’s not the processor, but the OS…Linux machines have been running on the Intel platform for years, how many Linux virii are out there? Or maybe how many successful Linux virii are out there — that’s why some businesses have seriously been looking into enterprise versions of Linux.

    Look, there are risks out there in the online world — but unless you unplug your computer from the Internet and just stick to playing Freecell all day, those are risks you have to take. But you can minimize those risks by (1) practicing safe surfing (not going to questionable sites), (2) install a basic anti-virus software, and (3) use a platform that’s more stable and less prone to virii.

  4. since it first came out….

    No virus nor malware no nothing. Did not bother to install any anti-virus sw or the firewall.

    A firewall is used to monitor the traffic on opened ports for specific applications. OS X defaults with all ports closed: no need to turn on the firewall, the ports are not listening.

    Different issue if you start opening ports for specific tasks: use the firewall then. Otherwise who cares, OS X is not listening. Heck, is not even *visible* without a single port responding to external traffic. Even ping does not work.

    Capish now?

  5. than the endless chicken little FUD from people seeking hits and selling AV software and services is the overly smug attitude that many people running OS X have about security. Anything as complex as an OS is bound to have exploitable weaknesses, some are just more difficult than others. Windows, the greatest kludge of an OS ever sold, is an anomaly and should not be used as a baseline of what is possible.

    The danger is in being unprepared. Many Mac users are just asking for a catastrophic loss of data by not following prudent security and data safety protocols. Lose your HD due to equipment failure or some future exploit without a backup and you could lose your entire iTunes library, potentially as big an investment as the computer it sits on. That is just plain stupid. Back up your data. Think of all of the time you have invested on your photo, video, music and other files. Time= money.

    Having an AV program available for recovery is the smart thing to do and is available for free. ClamX AV is available ( not UB yet, but close ) and runs well on PPC Macs.

    http://www.markallan.co.uk/clamXav/

  6. This is basically a Mac site and we all know what FUD is being passed around. The problem is that Windows readers are believing it simply becasue they don’t know any better.

    Somehow, the word should be getting on PC sites and letting them know that the assholes writing these articles have no clue and that Mac users DONT have the problems that are being written about.

    I dont know how to do it. Coming from a Mac user it just would seem like a religious thing, but switchers may have better luck with the uninformed, misguided, brainwashed Windows users.

  7. Re: PowerMac G4 AGP – I also have one that is still in daily use. It is running 10.3.9. Never reinstalled anything in 6 years. Sits behind a router (hardware firewall). No Anti Virus software installed.

    I also run a B&W G3. Sits behind my company firewall running 10.3.9. I have ClamXAV to scan the downloads folder. No viruses found yet.

    My home computer is a 15″ Al Powerbook. I found a virus once when scanning the Home folder with ClamXAV. It was in the Virtual PC hard disk image. I had to wipe out Virtual PC and reinstall. Life goes on.

    Thats 3 computers, 1 Windows virus and 10 min spent to reinstall Virtual PC in the last decade of Mac use.

  8. Attn: MDN…

    “A Mac running on intel = a boon to all those virus, spyware, adware, and other invasion software makers.”

    please name one, just one virus, that attacked an intel chip. Any virus will do, just please name ONE virus that went after the chip.

    You’ll find that you can’t. It’s the OS stupid.

    Please…. pretty please…. in the future would you get a clue before commenting on the mac platform, or anything about computers in general again?

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