Spyware, viruses and security advice please

Veni Vidi Vici

Distinguished Member
Hi all

Being a newbie to Macs I'm still paranoid about getting any nasties on my macbook. I've read macs don't really suffer with viruses but do they still gather spyware, trojan horses, keyloggers etc...like PC's do?

I have the firewire on but again not knowing anything about macs is the preinstalled firewall good or should I be looking to get something better? (like a Zonealarm equilivant?)

The constant updating and scanning on my PC drove me mad, one of the reasons I wanted to switch.

Any security advice, software or tips much appreciated.

thanks.
 
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Tenex

Distinguished Member
There's lots on here already (so its worth a search) about this but most use the firewall and little else. If you're new to the platform you won't know about Screencasts online but the guy behind it has just removed Intego AV after it made his Mac Pro unstable. I have no doubt in the future it will become a focus for hackers etc - esp. if Obama fills the White House with Macs - but at this time there's very little around and all requires the user to be stupid enough to actually intervene and activate it on their Mac (eg. codecs on porn sites etc).

I'm not someone who suffered much with viruses on a PC over a very long time because I kept my AV uptodate etc. In four years nothings appeared on my Mac.
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
I'm using Intego Internet Security suite. Can't say whether it is the best but I like a suite as it is not just antivirus that you may need...
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Being a newbie to Macs I'm still paranoid about getting any nasties on my macbook. I've read macs don't really suffer with viruses
Its true that there are not as many viruses targeting Mac as there is with Windows. Simple rule of market forces. Hackers and criminals live in the real world :cool:
but do they still gather spyware, trojan horses, keyloggers etc...like PC's do?
Yes, because just like on PCs, such items install on your machine because of the browsing habits of the end user. To be blunt no matter how 'secure' an OS is, there is no protection against end user stupidity or naivety

If you are in the business of visiting sites which you prefer to remove from your browser history, or in the business of downloading files from questionable sources then expect to be burnt eventually

I have used my HP for 2.5 years and have never had a security problem (a/v, firewall, modified hosts file). Likewise no problem with using my Macbook after 3 months. It is about your browsing habits
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
Its true that there are not as many viruses targeting Mac as there is with Windows. Simple rule of market forces. Hackers and criminals live in the real world :cool:

Yes, because just like on PCs, such items install on your machine because of the browsing habits of the end user. To be blunt no matter how 'secure' an OS is, there is no protection against end user stupidity or naivety

If you are in the business of visiting sites which you prefer to remove from your browser history, or in the business of downloading files from questionable sources then expect to be burnt eventually

I have used my HP for 2.5 years and have never had a security problem (a/v, firewall, modified hosts file). Likewise no problem with using my Macbook after 3 months. It is about your browsing habits

Or the habits of one of their friends or friend of their friend or their friend...they get passed through email as well!
 

spinaltap

Distinguished Member
I would rather be safe that pitifully sorry after the event - that's why I take the cautious approach and use Intego's software.

If you're going dual OS, Intego's 'Dual Protection' route is the way to go.

It's worthwhile remembering that the designer of the Titanic fervently believed his ship was unsinkable. He was sadly mistaken.
 

Veni Vidi Vici

Distinguished Member
Its true that there are not as many viruses targeting Mac as there is with Windows. Simple rule of market forces. Hackers and criminals live in the real world :cool:

Yes, because just like on PCs, such items install on your machine because of the browsing habits of the end user. To be blunt no matter how 'secure' an OS is, there is no protection against end user stupidity or naivety

If you are in the business of visiting sites which you prefer to remove from your browser history, or in the business of downloading files from questionable sources then expect to be burnt eventually

I have used my HP for 2.5 years and have never had a security problem (a/v, firewall, modified hosts file). Likewise no problem with using my Macbook after 3 months. It is about your browsing habits

I would have thought Macs would be major target for hacker types purely because Apple bang on about how secure they are. I would think there's more 'street cred' to bring carnage to Macs than PC's, as any Tom, Dick or Harry seems to be able to hack or create viruses on PC's.

I appreciate its user surfing is the main problem but even the most safe surfers have got viruses and alike though emails or hacked sites.
 
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barrybarryr

Established Member
I use "Common-Sense" (TM). It's free. But not that common.

Thanks for that pearl of wisdom. Irrespective of the amount of common sense that you (or anyone else may or may not have) common sense would dictate that if you can buy a piece of software that will help security then you do it.

Can anyone else recommend an AV program/suite for mac?
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
I appreciate its user surfing is the main problem but even the most safe surfers have got viruses and alike though emails or hacked sites.
My point was that with the likes of trojans you need to physically download a file which has been tainted (so to speak), unlike with a virus, hence the mini-speech :laugh:

You can of course set your firewall to only allow specific applications

Or use something like Little Snitch... :rolleyes:
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
There's no apparently about it. They fall into the stupid category I refer to in post 6
 

A n d r e w

Prominent Member
Thanks for that pearl of wisdom.
You're very welcome. My point was that by being sensible about where I point my browser and what I download and install, I've been virus free since 2003 - and even then, it was a Windows machine that became infected. A matter of balancing slowing your machine down with AV/FW software against the actual threat.

Anyway, just offering my opinion, which is what these forums are for, no?
 

andrew markwort

Established Member
True story. About ten years ago I bought a Mac at work. I asked for virus protection and was told (or rather patronised) by our computer 'expert' that it was impossible to get a virus on the Mac and that I couldn't have any. Guess what happened to my Mac a few days later? Yes, you've guessed it. And this was on a work machine that I most certainly was not downloading games, music files, etc, on. I agree that someone downloading dodgy or downright illegal files deserves what they get, but not all viruses are so blindingly obviously packaged. E.g. mine came attached to an email from a professor at one of our more prestigious universities and was in a file that I'd been expecting.

The simple fact is that Macs can and DO get infected. It's at a lower rate than on PCs for sure, but it's still a real and present danger. Now if you want to get precious about a (miniscule) drop in speed then fine - leave your machine unprotected. However, personally I'd sooner have a working machine than a heap of useless junk that used to be marginally faster until it got trashed.

And also bear in mind that the reason why Macs get fewer viruses is that they are a minority brand. As Apple's market share increases, does anyone honestly think that some whack job with an axe to grind won't try to develop a Mac virus? And with so many machines lacking ANY anti-virus protection, just think how many machines could be infected with those first viruses.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Guess what happened to my Mac a few days later? Yes, you've guessed it. And this was on a work machine that I most certainly was not downloading games, music files, etc, on. I agree that someone downloading dodgy or downright illegal files deserves what they get, but not all viruses are so blindingly obviously packaged. E.g. mine came attached to an email from a professor at one of our more prestigious universities and was in a file that I'd been expecting.
Ahh yes, you cannot legislate for getting files forwarded to you from infected machines

On a side note, Google have implemented the most annoying "virus scanner" I have seen yet for email. It doesn't scan you attachments - it just blocks all .exe files :suicide: And zipping it does not work. Simple matter of renaming the extension but come on Google - don't be so lazy
 

Veni Vidi Vici

Distinguished Member
True story. About ten years ago I bought a Mac at work. I asked for virus protection and was told (or rather patronised) by our computer 'expert' that it was impossible to get a virus on the Mac and that I couldn't have any. Guess what happened to my Mac a few days later? Yes, you've guessed it. And this was on a work machine that I most certainly was not downloading games, music files, etc, on. I agree that someone downloading dodgy or downright illegal files deserves what they get, but not all viruses are so blindingly obviously packaged. E.g. mine came attached to an email from a professor at one of our more prestigious universities and was in a file that I'd been expecting.

The simple fact is that Macs can and DO get infected. It's at a lower rate than on PCs for sure, but it's still a real and present danger. Now if you want to get precious about a (miniscule) drop in speed then fine - leave your machine unprotected. However, personally I'd sooner have a working machine than a heap of useless junk that used to be marginally faster until it got trashed.

And also bear in mind that the reason why Macs get fewer viruses is that they are a minority brand. As Apple's market share increases, does anyone honestly think that some whack job with an axe to grind won't try to develop a Mac virus? And with so many machines lacking ANY anti-virus protection, just think how many machines could be infected with those first viruses.

Is it because Apples are actually harder to create viruses for than PC's, is it an actual O/S difference that makes it difficult? I can't believe they are as easy otherwise there would be more viruses about.

Surely if they are as easy to create viruses for, they would be a bigger target for virus creators, even if Macs only account for a small customer base overall.
 

graham.myers

Distinguished Member
its got nothing to do with the hardware or software. its market penetration.

macs, as good as they are, do not have the market penetration of billy boy gates based products.

of you were a virus writer and you know that 90% (made up figure!) of computers were on windows and the rest on unix/mac/other why would you write a virus for non-windows.

as apple/linux/whatever become popular then virii writers will turn thier attention to them
 

Veni Vidi Vici

Distinguished Member
its got nothing to do with the hardware or software. its market penetration.

macs, as good as they are, do not have the market penetration of billy boy gates based products.

of you were a virus writer and you know that 90% (made up figure!) of computers were on windows and the rest on unix/mac/other why would you write a virus for non-windows.

as apple/linux/whatever become popular then virii writers will turn thier attention to them

but surely the virus writers would get much more respect, kudos or praise creating a virus for a system that actually sells itself on being the most secure o/s and virus free? It doesn't cost a virus writer money, just time and skill, so even if the mac is less popular its still an untapped research. It seems anybody can write viruses on PC's with a little knowledge.

There must be something more to it than macs not being popular, or is that just wishful thinking?
 

andrew markwort

Established Member
but surely the virus writers would get much more respect, kudos or praise creating a virus for a system that actually sells itself on being the most secure o/s and virus free? It doesn't cost a virus writer money, just time and skill, so even if the mac is less popular its still an untapped research. It seems anybody can write viruses on PC's with a little knowledge.

There must be something more to it than macs not being popular, or is that just wishful thinking?

Macs are harder to attack because it is extremely difficult to load something onto the machine without getting the user's permission (we may find all these 'enter your password' commands tedious, but they're there for a purpose), whereas there are a lot of back doors into Windows. Also, I believe that Macs are more popular with virus writers than Windows (not sure that is something Apple would choose as an advertising slogan) and Linux more popular still. Probably due to being the underdogs, Windows being the Evil Empire, etc, etc, etc.

However, this is only a relative thing, and does not mean that all virus writers will leave Mac alone. There ARE Mac viruses already and I agree that someone somewhere will think it's a great 'honour' to create a new virus that gets round a Mac's defences. These are guys who presumably already hold no guilt about screwing up computers not only in offices but also hospitals etc, so I doubt whether the fact that Macs have a nice cuddly image will deter them for a second.

And I think that the time for a Mac virus is pretty much at hand. In the USA, Macbooks are now the most popular laptops on university campuses. It only takes one disgruntled student with a misapplied knowledge of computing to want to take their revenge on fellow students for some real or imagined sleight for the impetus to be created. And as I said in an earlier post, with so many people not having virus protection, a well-constructed virus could have a devastating effect.

The only thing I find totally baffling in the world of viruses is why anyone bothers to write them for Vista. Surely that system can screw people's lives up enough without any help from outsiders? ;)
 
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D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
but surely the virus writers would get much more respect, kudos or praise creating a virus for a system that actually sells itself on being the most secure o/s and virus free? It doesn't cost a virus writer money, just time and skill, so even if the mac is less popular its still an untapped research. It seems anybody can write viruses on PC's with a little knowledge.

There must be something more to it than macs not being popular, or is that just wishful thinking?

Don't forget that there are very few original viruses out there...Most are just simple variants, mainly created by the so called 'script kiddies' who just follow a simple generator with some parameters to create more of the same...

The days of gaining kudos for writing an original virus are well over, that's really not the case anymore. There are much better ways to gain that kind of kudos and make money legitimately...
 

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