Originally Posted by Maximara
Regardless of marketshare the trogs that write malware will go for easy targets that is why they went after System 6 when the Mac had less
of a marketshare than it does today. However OS X is not
System 6 and what malware has popped up is of the social engineering variety and nearly all of that are proof of concepts rather than stuff actually in the wild.
This is true. You should, however, make no mistake. There were 26 total Mac-only viruses spanning System 6 through MacOS 9.
The release of Word 6
was the dawn of a new era-- the era of the cross-platform macro virus. The first such virus converted .doc files to .dot files. Office 98
brought Visual BASIC for Applications
to the Mac. Word 6
's macro language was the pioneering technology for cross-platform technology. VBA
was the technology that made macro viruses the dominant form of malware.
Old style viruses had been the exclusive domain of skilled assembly language programmers. With VBA
, any idiot with a text editor could write a working virus. The era of the "script kiddie" would not have been possible without Microsoft and its misbegotten technology.
System 6 viruses were distributed via floppy disk, for the most part. When Mac viruses became an issue, freeware antivirus software like Disinfectant
was soon to follow. Commercial antivirus software like Symantec Antivirus for the Macintosh
came soon after that. With antivirus software installed, it was virtually impossible for an infected floppy to infect additional files. This was due to the design of System 6/7. Mac floppies mounted automatically upon insertion. An antivirus utility could then intercept the mounting process, scan for a virus, and disinfect the floppy before the virus could infect the computer's second floppy or hard drive.
Over the years that followed, the numbers of new Mac viruses did not increase; they decreased. By the end of the MacOS 9 era, there were fewer than one new Mac-only virus per year. This had nothing to do with marketshare. It was because a protected Mac was virtually impossible to infect. You don't waste your time on fruitless tasks.
The other side of virus question is the damage done by the virus. Each of the 26 Mac-only viruses were fairly innocuous. VBA
viruses had access only to Office
on the Mac. On Windows, VBA
viruses had access to the run of the computer. Windows XP
saw the most malicious viruses in history. In its early days, while Windows 98 was still the dominant version of Windows, Windows XP withered under a barrage of virus attacks. A rising chorus of criticism forced Bill Gates to respond. He turned this critical flaw into a virtue. Gates claimed that Windows had so many viruses because it was so popular. This was the first time that anyone had ever made such a claim. However, the popular press accepted the assertion with neither proof nor evidence to support the assertion. It goes like this:
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
Windows has a lot of viruses.
Windows is the most popular OS.
Therefore, Windows has so many viruses because it is the most popular OS.
Windows users accepted the assertion and continue to repeat it to this very day.