"Macs don't get viruses"

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Ok, so everytime I get a stupid email from someone (sometimes a close friend or family member) telling me they might have sent me a virus, or to delete some folder in windows (HA HA) and I will safely remove the virus (HOAX), I always reply with "Macs don't get viruses" and tell them that I am sorry they got a virus and wish em well with their (upchuck, cough PC).

Is what I am saying the truth? It just seems that EVERYONE I know has had a virus on their PC at some point or another. And most viruses come in the form of an exe file - some kind of worm or something.

Is there any sort of viruses I should be on the look out for? I don't even have virus protection on my emac unless it's automatic. My email never opens anything from anyone unless I tell it to.

My friend said there are some viruses for Mac that he has encountered that screw with your preferences and are more annoying that damaging. Is that true?

Just want to know if 1. I am a liar and 2. If I should keep my eye out for viruses that COULD affect my mac. And if so, what are they called and what are their symptoms?




  • Reply 1 of 31
    liquidrliquidr Posts: 884member
    I do believe there are viruses for macs, I've installed Norton Anti-Virus on my iBook. But I think they are less prevalent b/c (this is just my conjecture) A. the user base for macs are smaller i.e. less people to screw around B. mac users that can code are less interested in screwing with other peoples macs out of respect for macs

    Just my 2 cents
  • Reply 2 of 31
    baumanbauman Posts: 1,248member
    After using a Mac for over 10 years, I can safely say that I have absolutely NEVER gotten a virus.

    And, my Macs have been exposed to the internet and all... it's just never become a problem. We used to have Symantec Anti-Virus (yes, that's how long ago it was), but it never caught anything except for the occasional Word macro virus. And those don't really count, IMO, since the MS Word itself was the trojan horse, and I installed that one myself, consciously.

    So, of course, you could get a Mac virus... they do exist... but I never have.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    The term 'virus" has become a little muddled. Viruses used to be little bits of code added to executables. To these, Macs have been immune because, well, yes Macs are less popular and there are not a lot of people hacking Mac applications. Instead viruses modified .exe and .com files.

    Some of the recent rashes of "viruses" (eh-heh, 'rash' get it) that have made the news actually aren't viruses but VBscripts. See Microsoft decided that scripts attached to emails, when opened with Outlook, should run automatically and be able to anything to any file on the computer, even system files. Neat huh?

    Mac OS X is a BSD Unix derivative and as a Unix the files have varying levels of permissions plus scripting hasn't been so haphazardly integrated into user level apps.

    But the structure of the OS can protect you only so far. That's why you shouldn't be doing anything casual (email, web, et cetera) as root. Heck, on every install of OS X I use, I make an 'admin' account plus my own account and don't give myself admin rights.

  • Reply 4 of 31
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    Not a single MacOS X virus exists. I wonder when someone is going to write one just to be the first one to do it. They would have to endure the shame that comes with it though! Mac programmers have class.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    alcimedesalcimedes Posts: 5,486member
    last i checked, exlcluding word macro viruses, there were 50 viruses for the Mac platform. i believe the PC side is floating around between 50,000 - 60,000.

    it's no wonder it feels like there are no Mac viruses. (and there really are no OSX ones)
  • Reply 6 of 31
    liquidrliquidr Posts: 884member
    So, the anit-virus portion of Norton Utilities is really worthless... Damn. Refund.

    Eh, so what the hell am I updating on their update service?
  • Reply 7 of 31
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Last Mac virus that really did some damage was Autostart Worm 9805...which came and went in...1998...
  • Reply 8 of 31
    mimacmimac Posts: 871member
    This article may be of interest to you.

    Could be Symantec stirring up some sales though \
  • Reply 9 of 31
    newnew Posts: 3,244member

    Originally posted by Eugene

    Last Mac virus that really did some damage was Autostart Worm 9805...which came and went in...1998...

    That was the only time I ever had a virus. On my 6500/275.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member

    Originally posted by New

    That was the only time I ever had a virus. On my 6500/275.

    Most people here probably got it from the same infected MacAddict CD.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    thuh freakthuh freak Posts: 2,664member

    Originally posted by LiquidR

    So, the anit-virus portion of Norton Utilities is really worthless... Damn. Refund.

    Eh, so what the hell am I updating on their update service?

    i think the benefit these antivirus programs have, on osx, is they clean up your files, to make sure you dont pass along windows viruses to the other windows users. also, i think they can cleanup known macro viruses on both sides. not worth the price for me, but some of you out there may like being kind to your windows 'friends'.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    banchobancho Posts: 1,517member
    Antivirus programs on a Mac are not worth the CPU cycles they use.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Userbase wide, Norton AntiVirus for OS X has actually caused more data corruption than the viri it is supposed to protect against...

  • Reply 14 of 31
    jesperasjesperas Posts: 524member
    Aside from autostart, the only viruses i remember encountering on a mac (OS 8/9 days) were Word macro viruses, which were more annoying than damaging, since they only affected word files.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    You are totally right - don't worry.

    In order for a virus to be effective it needs to access and change your system files. You do this all the time, when you install, update, etc. Yet every-time you do this you always have to put in your username and password, so if a virus did run on your computer it would have to ask you for authorization to even start. All this adds up to a bug proof computer.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    While the threat of viri on the mac is almost zero, I wouldn't go as far to say that they need access to system files to be damaging.

    It is the files belonging to the current user that are critical. Normally, its user generated data that is most important. The system can be reinstalled fairly easily in a matter of hours. Corrupted or deleted user data is gone forever unless previously backed up. File system permissions do nothing to protect the current user's files.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Mac viruses are different, too. A good dozen or so of the extant Mac viruses were written by Mac fans to do things like display a special splash screen at startup on the Mac's tenth anniversary.

    The number of harmful viruses is really, really low, and the QT Autostart worm is the only one that got anywhere.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    ast3r3xast3r3x Posts: 5,012member
    so does file vault help with this at all or don't you need permission to grab stuff from there if ur that user?

    also, how easy would it be to hike a little program to run when the installer is run...i know when you install somethings you have to put in your password like 5 times (heh...funily enough its norton)

    also i used to get sevendust rather often...then again i was a compulsive warez puppy who downloaded everything my tiny HD could handle
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Personally, I agree with thuh Freak above. I keep Norton AntiVirus on my Macs simply to keep from sending any Windows viruses (especially Word macro viruses) on to any Windows users. I know that the virus won't have any effect on me, but I want to make sure I'm not passing virus-infected files on to a client or friend. It sits there in the background and I never, ever think about it until I hear about the latest virus causing rampaging havoc in the Windows world. Then, I just sit back and appreciate my little Mac all the more and marvel once again at the tremendous job MS has done of brainwashing the entire world to believe that abuse by their computers is a totally normal and acceptable thing.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    I found out I had SevenDust and nVIR/a on this OS 9 computer yesterday. I got them from a friend when he gave me a copy of Spaceward Ho! 3.0 that had been passed down from computer to computer since 1993 or so, each computer having been loaded with volumes of second-hand floppies, full of classic Mac applications. Under OS 9, it's possible to play this game over the Internet. Anyway, there were free utilities to take care of both viruses, and neither virus caused any damage. I don't think I've ever gotten a virus from regular Internet usage.
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