Can Macs pass on Windows Viruses

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by Judge Dee, Apr 26, 2010.

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  1. Judge Dee

    Judge Dee Guest

    After calling two Mac dealers trying to get Intego for my wife's Mac, I finally went to a not so locale Apple store. All three people I have talked to claimed that Macs cannot pass on Windows viruses. At the store, he truly acted like I was an alien because I purchased an AV.
    Ignoring that Apple itself recommended purchasing an AV, and ignoring that Mac was the first to be hacked in the PWN 2 OWN contest, have I lost my mind? I thought Mac and Linux machines can pass on viruses through pdfs, emails, etc.
    Thanks for any elucidation you can give me if I'm wrong.
     
  2. emperordarius

    emperordarius Registered Member

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    A bad comment some time ago. Was removed. Apple now just says that an antivirus may add additional protection, but that's about it.

    ...After the hackers prepared for a year, and not using malware, but visiting an exploiting website.
    Can pass as in "can get Windows malware, but they cannot infect nor proliferate in any way. In other words, an antivirus for the Mac will not really do any good. There's really no malware out there, except for a torrent trojan and a fake codec/video one. A "new" one was discovered recently, but it was more of a PoC, its gravity aggrandized as a mere fear mongering technique.

    So, buying an av for the Mac is a waste of time. If you really gotta use one, either get ClamAV (Mac+Win malware) or iAntivirus (only Mac), both of which of course free.
     
  3. chronomatic

    chronomatic Registered Member

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    Yes, they can pass on Windows viruses. No, these Windows viruses will not affect the Mac or Linux box. Yes, you can run AV if you want to, but it wont do you a bit of good since all the viruses in the databases are Windows viruses (the dealer is right, you're wasting your money).

    Bottom line: the only reason to run AV on a Mac is to help stop Windows viruses from spreading. There are very few native OS X viruses out there. I am not aware of any in the wild (with the exception of a handful of trojans that are easy to avoid).
     
  4. Judge Dee

    Judge Dee Guest

    Well, shoot. I wasted my money.
    Thanks guys for the explanations.
     
  5. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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  6. linuxforall

    linuxforall Registered Member

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    If you get lots of mails with attachments as I do and then forward them, its an additional safety layer so that you don't pass those virus onto Windows users, otherwise Mac or Linux doesn't get affected with virus made for Windows.
     
  7. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    Imho: No you didnt :)
    From Ron's Link:
    Most of this forum is based on protecting MS software..
    Ergo: You are being a responsible web community member :thumb:
    Corollary if you find something sent from a legit friend: you can warn them.

    Having a possibly redundant safety device aint really a biggie is it?
     
  8. doktornotor

    doktornotor Registered Member

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    I'd kinda agree it's good to not spread viruses even if they can't harm you; such as in the email example. OTOH, for this kind of thing, it's even better to filter them straight on mailserver so that they can't reach users at all. Infected mail belongs to /dev/null and not to users' mailboxes, optimally should be rejected before ending the SMTP session. And definitely NOT bounced in any way or form to anyone after that if you choose other AV implementation, not even w/ the virus attachment stripped. You'll end up on backscatter blacklists very soon otherwise.
     
  9. chronomatic

    chronomatic Registered Member

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    A biography of the woman who wrote that About.com article:

    As you can see, she is a M$ MVP which means she has probably very little experience with anything but Windows. I converse with lots of M$ MVP's on security forums such as this, and I have found 90% of them have no clue about anything not Windows related; they just assume OS X works just like Windows. The truth is there are lot's of Windows experts that pretend they are Unix experts (and sometimes the reverse is also true).

    Second, Landesman works for an AV software company which means of course she is going to try and hock AV products to unassuming OS X users. Never, ever, take security advice from "experts" who work for AV companies -- they always have ulterior motives. Always.

    Now, am I saying it is literally impossible to get malware on OS X? No, I am not. But I am saying that there are so few threats out there it is a waste of money and resources to worry about it. As this woman even mentions in the article, most Mac AV software is "downstream" meaning it only scans for Windows viruses (as I said before). You will find that there are just not many viruses for OS X out there and even fewer in the wild.

    Now, there are a few trojans in the wild (maybe 2 or 3 I have read about in the last year) and all reports I have seen of infections were a result of users downloading pirated Mac software via shady torrents. Another instance was a fake plugin for Safari that the user is social engineered into installing. As everyone knows, social engineering can never be completely stopped since it depends on the gullibility of the user. Moreover, it was recently shown that the major AV software brands did not pick up the Zeus trojan over 70% of the time! And this is the most famous trojan in the world right now!

    Bottom line: Install your updates when prompted. Don't install software from untrusted sources. Don't run services unless you know how to secure them (ssh for instance). Do these things, and you will never have any problems. This is even true on Windows too, but the problem with Windows is it's much more difficult to tell what is legit software and what isn't.
     
  10. linuxforall

    linuxforall Registered Member

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    Chronomatic, the issue here is not Linux getting infected, its Linux user receiving files from infected Windows users and forwarding it to other Windows users, its there it becomes a matter of contention, you might be accused of being irresponsible and spreading virus, that been said, not a single bad stuff has been detected by Bit Defender AV installed on my Ubuntu Linux.
     
  11. Judge Dee

    Judge Dee Guest

    Yes, that's correct. I definitely want me -and my wife- to be responsible, to use Longboard's term.
    Although my wife isn't computer illiterate, she does receive many emails from two friends whose Window's machines have often been infected. At least she won't pass on viruses if the emails are infected.
    I really appreciate the input from everyone.
     
  12. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    I think the responsibility falls on the Windows users to keep their own systems free of viruses and malware. Any Win user not running an AV will eat it sooner or later anyway. The burden lies there. Why junk up your linux system with something you don't need to run?
     
  13. linuxforall

    linuxforall Registered Member

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    Good point but since its a Windows dominated world, Linux and Mac users still have to be wary for the eventuality.
     
  14. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    @ judge Dee
    Sorry if that came across as a bit patronising/condescending :oops:
    Just highlight the fact that none of us wants to spread mals or have friends botted.

    @chrono: Points taken:
    Landesman has some cred, she is not a typical windows shill.
    If I recall in the past she has offered some fairly trenchant criticism of MS.
    Note that she specifically recognises Windows/MS vulnerability.
    :D
    I agree she is prone to some fud-ish notes re OS-X vulnerabilities :cautious:
    She certainly does not highlight the relative security of non_MS OSes eh? :mad:

    Not sure how Linux got into this thread : a parallel to OS-X security: even better probably.

    Agreed, the only problem is that doesn't always seem to work very well !!

    There is that aspect, so far not a big issue, but be foolish to ignore it: even letting the Jobsian Borg do auto stuffs ??.
    Note that "the app" model for Apple is coming under pressure... there have been some Mac mals, but, the attacks are so few there are no metrics for analysis of antimalware apps on Macs..are there?.

    To quote/paraphrase some important person.. "any code can be exploited"
    Regards
     
  15. chrisretusn

    chrisretusn Registered Member

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    Judge Dee, not sure what version of OS X you are using. If it's Snow Leopard, it contains a built in malware checker. Inside Snow Leopard's hidden malware protection | Security | Macworld. It's not much compared to Intego.

    As both an OS X and Linux user I do not have any sort of anti-malware products installed on any of those systems. If I get a file that is suspicious and if I want to pass it on, I check the file with one of those on-line checkers like VirusTotal or fire up one of my Windows VM's to check it out. Since I rarely pass on attachments that is not a real inconvenience. If I did more often, then I might add an anti-malware product to help keep me from unwittingly forwarding a virus out to friends. Most of the virus attachments I get are easy to tell anyway (spam) and never get passed on

    I have a home LAN and all but my daughters laptop are non-Windows machines. I don't worry much about getting anything from her laptop and she has an anti-maleware product installed.

    That all said, I don't think you wasted your money. Especially if you send forward a lot of attachments.

    A little off topic but how much does Intego impact the system?
     
  16. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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  17. Judge Dee

    Judge Dee Guest

    Longboard
    Not at all did you come across patronising! I took you seriously, and I think it's a good point. :thumb:

    chrisretusn
    It's my wife, and she's using Snow Leopard.
    Thanks for that link. At first glance it seems you're right, Intego is a bit better.
    To be honest, I don't know about system impact. How do I check usage on the mac?
     
  18. Judge Dee

    Judge Dee Guest

    chrisretusn, I know this is no bench test or anything, but she says she notices no real impact with Intego. And she does use graphics manipulation programs.
    After I first bought it, I did a full scan on her Imac and browsed the internet during the scan, not noticing much of an impact at all.
     
  19. chrisretusn

    chrisretusn Registered Member

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    Judge Dee thanks that was pretty much what I was looking for.
     
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