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Question for OS X
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vinnyvo
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Jan 15, 2005, 10:19 PM
 
hi everyone.


i just got my IMAC G5 in a few days ago, and it runs super..

i am a noob to the mac world and
i was wondering, if you have to install antivirus software or firewall programs to use the internet safely???
     
chris v
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Jan 15, 2005, 10:37 PM
 
There aren't as yet any known viruses for OS X. Also, the operating system has a built-in firewall. System Preferences > Sharing. You can open ports for file sharing,etc. there in the control panel. Very simple.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
alphasubzero949
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Jan 16, 2005, 12:15 AM
 
There could potentially be viruses once OS X becomes popular enough in due time. However, it would be difficult given that mucking around system files require administrator authentication. New users may find the constant prompts for passwords annoying, but they are safeguards. Also remember to backup your home directories.
     
Rainy Day
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Jan 16, 2005, 05:47 PM
 
I don't think MacOS X market penetration has anything to do with the lack of MacOS X exploits. It is because Apple "gets" security and M$ doesn't.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jan 16, 2005, 06:19 PM
 
Originally posted by Rainy Day:
I don't think MacOS X market penetration has anything to do with the lack of MacOS X exploits. It is because Apple "gets" security and M$ doesn't.
I think there's three reasons:

1. much better system design. Barring new security exploits, which, due to the open-source nature of OS X, are usually patched within hours, not months as with Windows (if that), the most damage a virus/trojan can do is wipe out a user's home directory. While that is certainly serious, there is little incentive for a virus/worm writer to do so. From what I read, the biggest kick is owning hundreds, if not thousands of machines at a time and using them to do some *real* damage to the net infrastructure or commercial sites, or to use them to send spam deluges. That is very, very difficult, if not impossible to achieve on OS X, since it is pretty much impossible to break into the system itself without the user himself knowing.

2. Microsoft, Gates and Ballmer are marvellous hate-objects, while Apple and Jobs and their hardware has the underdog/coolness bonus.

3. Market penetration IS an issue. If your piece of malware affects, say, 5% of target machines, that's an AWFUL lot of Windows 'puters, but very few Macintoshes.

Of course, #3 is subject to change.

-s*
     
Rainy Day
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Jan 16, 2005, 06:45 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
3. Market penetration IS an issue. If your piece of malware affects, say, 5% of target machines, that's an AWFUL lot of Windows 'puters, but very few Macintoshes.
Nope. That's analogous to saying only GM cars will ever be stolen or prowled because there are so many more of them, or that BMW's are never targets because they only represent a small percentage of the market. Thieves take whatever opportunity hands them.

While that analogy isn't perfect, the fact of the matter is any hacker who could exploit MacOS would do so for the prestige of being the first, or to prove he is better than his fellow hackers.

The low market penetration argument is simply "security through obscurity," which is widely viewed a fallacious concept by security professionals.

I'm not saying MacOS isn't exploitable, only that Apple is runs a much tighter ship than the leaky boats M$ tries to keep afloat. No doubt we will one day see a real MacOS X exploit, but i doubt they will ever number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, as they do for M$, even when Apple's market share rivals M$ (which it will, some day).
     
Chuckit
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:00 PM
 
Originally posted by Rainy Day:
Nope. That's analogous to saying only GM cars will ever be stolen or prowled because there are so many more of them, or that BMW's are never targets because they only represent a small percentage of the market. Thieves take whatever opportunity hands them.
It's not even vaguely analogous to that. Hacking and stealing cars are completely different, both in the how and the why.

Stealing one BMW nets you a lot of money. Infecting one computer won't even get you in the back page of computer magazines. If you want your malware to be known, it has to have a big, very visible bang. Not only does the small market of the Mac make worms difficult (most other computers wouldn't pass on the worm), but even if you somehow affect a significant portion of the Mac market, it's about the same thing as affecting a barely noticeable portion of the overall PC market.
Chuck
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Rainy Day
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:08 PM
 
Originally posted by Chuckit:
It's not even vaguely analogous to that. Hacking and stealing cars are completely different
But the analogy is every bit as good as the security through obscurity argument (which is what the "low market share penetration" argument is).
     
Chuckit
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:14 PM
 
Originally posted by Rainy Day:
But the analogy is every bit as good as the security through obscurity argument (which is what the "low market share penetration" argument is).
My argument that low penetration makes the Mac less appealing and statistically harder to use as a vector for infection is the same thing as the suggestion that hiding a system's vulnerabilities makes it safer? Again, I don't see any connection at all.
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Millennium
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:27 PM
 
Macs are better when it comes to security design. There are entire classes of malware on Windows that aren't even possible on Macs, simply because OSX was designed with a much greater emphasis on security than Windows was. However, we're not invincible; the more traditional forms of malware can be written. Trojan horses remain as easy to write as ever, and although viruses are limited in how much they can do (unless you run as root) they can still be written. Worms can also be written, but they are much more difficult to write than on Windows.

So far, the Mac community has been lucky. No true viruses are known to exist. The only worm out there is a proof-of-concept, its source is currently closed, it cannot spread through e-mail or Web pages as Windows worms commonly do, and the owner has taken pains not to release it into the wild (it is a demonstration only). Several Trojan horses, including a couple of crude rootkits, have been written, but they are not in wide circulation. Only one piece of spyware has ever been written for OSX, and even its makers do not use it anymore.

Although anti-virus software is not as critical to run as it is on Windows, it is still a wise idea to run it. Macs cannot be infected by Windows viruses, but they can become carriers if they download files containing such viruses. They won't be harmed by these files, but if they give them to PC-using friends then the friends can become infected.

As for firewalls, OSX does not listen on any ports by default, so unless you deliberately open any servers you're reasonably safe as far as that goes. OSX still comes with a firewall, however, so if you want to run one as an extra line of defense than you certainly can. Apple's own interface to this firewall is very basic, but more powerful interfaces to the same firewall exist if you want something more advanced.
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Spheric Harlot
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:29 PM
 
Originally posted by Chuckit:
My argument that low penetration makes the Mac less appealing and statistically harder to use as a vector for infection is the same thing as the suggestion that hiding a system's vulnerabilities makes it safer? Again, I don't see any connection at all.
in the context "security by obscurity", "obscurity" refers to numbers, not secretive information policies.
     
Chuckit
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:41 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
in the context "security by obscurity", "obscurity" refers to numbers, not secretive information policies.
Wait, so his response was basically just, "Yeah, YOUR MOM"?
Chuck
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Millennium
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Jan 16, 2005, 07:58 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
in the context "security by obscurity", "obscurity" refers to numbers, not secretive information policies.
It's not a valid comparison. "Security by obscurity" is a policy, not a circumstance. Low market penetration is a circumstance, not a policy (not usually a policy, anyway). To compare them is to compare apples and oranges, if you'll pardon the pun.
You are in Soviet Russia. It is dark. Grue is likely to be eaten by YOU!
     
   
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