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Mac and virus
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
robert blu
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Mac and virus

A few weeks ago I spoke at the Genius Bar with an Apple technician about the maintenance of my Mac Pro (the bin).

Among other topics we discussed she made me sure Macs are not vulnerable by virus and no antivirus software is necessary.

I'm curious about the opinion of other Mac users about this, I know in the forum are more experienced users than I am, thanks.

robert
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
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Search for 'mac viruses and malware' and you'll find that the reality is a bit more complicated.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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There are less problems with a Mac, robert, but sadly it pays to be careful no matter what computer operating system you use. A lot of attacks come through web browser vulnerabilities now, so it pays to keep your operating system updated.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
Search for 'mac viruses and malware' and you'll find that the reality is a bit more complicated.
I know it's complicated, this is why I 'm interested in comments from RFF users whom I trust more than unknown people from the web. Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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Macs are not invulnerable to viruses or worms (Apple is more complacent than I'd like to security flaw bug reports), and of course no OS is immune to trojans, but on the balance of probabilities you are probably better off not running AV on a Mac.

Antivirus software is often shockingly badly written and in some cases puts you at more risk than not having any:

https://twitter.com/taviso/status/654321182338977792

I had asked an ex-colleague whose fiancé works for Apple and she told me they don't have antivirus software installed on corporate Macs.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
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As much as I dislike the direction Apple has taken under Tim Cook (OS bloat instead of simple, clean and stable), Apple is pretty good about immediately issuing “security updates” as soon as threats are discovered. If owners default is to automatically install updates, that happens in a hurry. Those who don't install security updates are more likely to have an issue.
In the early days when Apple was running Motorola chips and was a tiny share of the market, and Windows was running Intel chips and was 97% of the market, there was no incentive for malware makers to target Mac owners, so the “Macs don’t get viruses” was essentially true. When Macs switched to Intel chips, that changed.
Even so, and I don’t have current stats in front of me, Macs still seem to have less of a virus problem than Windows machines, something about a more robust architecture, which was why the NSA was preferentially using Macs, if I remember correctly. This may have changed by now, I don’t know. It’s rare to find internet threads discussing Macs and Windows that doesn’t end in someone screaming in all caps, maybe this one won’t go there.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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Make sure to read up about Catalina’s new security protections (“notarization”)
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
Make sure to read up about Catalina’s new security protections (“notarization”)
Apparently Adobe PS and LR users have been warned not to immediately update to Catalina until some issues are addressed.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
A few weeks ago I spoke at the Genius Bar with an Apple technician about the maintenance of my Mac Pro (the bin).

Among other topics we discussed she made me sure Macs are not vulnerable by virus and no antivirus software is necessary.

I'm curious about the opinion of other Mac users about this, I know in the forum are more experienced users than I am, thanks.

robert
I've been a Mac user since 1988 and have never, repeat: NEVER run any virus security software nor ever been infected by any virus, malware, spyware, etc. Until your post today I have not thought about software security on my Mac for many, many years. It is that much of a non issue.

Pretty much the only way a Mac can get a malware infection is to either install it yourself (via some trick such as phishing) or for someone to have physical access to your computer and install it themselves.

Just be very careful on the internet and do not click on links or allow anything to be installed onto your system unless you know 100% what it is.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
A few weeks ago I spoke at the Genius Bar with an Apple technician about the maintenance of my Mac Pro (the bin).

Among other topics we discussed she made me sure Macs are not vulnerable by virus and no antivirus software is necessary.

I'm curious about the opinion of other Mac users about this, I know in the forum are more experienced users than I am, thanks.
I've been using Macintosh operating system computers since 1984. I have never run antivirus software, and have never had a virus get in. Neither at home on open networks or at work (I worked for Apple from 1991 until 2016).

I do take sensible security precautions on my home networks, and certainly Apple does on theirs. To wit:
  • Keep your OS and apps updated sensibly.
  • If you are often in an insecure network environment, use a VPN.
  • NEVER surf the web from an account with administrator privileges ... You should *always* create a user account on your system that does not have admin privileges so that any virus or trojan attack is blocked at the OS/file system level from access to system configuration tools, and do all your work from that account other than app and system installation operations.
  • Use strong passwords and good network security authentication.
  • Never click on links in emails from unknown senders or unauthenticated web pages. Always look at the email address of who is sending you a link first.
  • Anything that seems too good to be true probably is — don't believe it when your bank sends you a note and gives you a link to go catch that golden ring. Always go to the bank's website login through their authenticated web page...

Just that stops the majority of attacks. There are nice tools like "Little Snitch" that will check incoming and outgoing packets, and "Malwarebytes" that'll check your system to see if anything is suspect.

There are some macOS viruses and trojans out there. Some have gotten into some people's systems. Apple's pretty good about hitting the nasties quickly enough, but nobody's perfect. Vigilance pays; anxiety is unnecessary.

G

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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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Quote:
I 'm interested in comments from RFF users whom I trust more than unknown people from the web
A bit prickly today, Robert? If you'd do the search I recommend, you'll not only find advice from users but also from Mac experts who are better informed than the Apple tech you recently conversed with. Cheers, OtL.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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Last month I took my MacBook Pro to the Genius Bar. They found a fair amount of adware, and removed it (they have a program that does that); but no malware or viruses. They didn't seem to think I needed to get any protection software.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
A bit prickly today, Robert? If you'd do the search I recommend, you'll not only find advice from users but also from Mac experts who are better informed than the Apple tech you recently conversed with. Cheers, OtL.
You are correct, I'll do the search you suggested for sure. English is not my native language and I probably expressed myself in a wrong way! More infos I collect easier is to make my own idea. I wanted only say sometimes from a google search there are answers from expert people, which is good, from less expert people or even from not expert people and sometimes it is difficult to understand. But your suggestion is valid, thanks
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert blu View Post
You are correct, I'll do the search you suggested for sure. English is not my native language and I probably expressed myself in a wrong way! More infos I collect easier is to make my own idea. I wanted only say sometimes from a google search there are answers from expert people, which is good, from less expert people or even from not expert people and sometimes it is difficult to understand. But your suggestion is valid, thanks
Robert, your English is great.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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I believe the reason Mac don't really require antivirus is because of 2 reasons:

a) Mac OS is basicallly a UNIX system that is more restrictive and controller than Windows counterpart and
b) Mac environment is more closed and controlled that Windows counterpart.

Either way, like stated before, while not as vulnerable to virus as Windows, it is still vulnerable to trojans and other malware that you install yourself, so caution is suggested, especially on the internet.

Regards

Marcelo
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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About two years ago I had a malware infection caused by opening a link designed to look like a software update. Apple support was a tremendous help in helping me find it on my hard drive. The tech recommended a program called Malware Bytes which will scan and isolate any malware it may find. It's a subscription is about $30 USD but well worth it in a time when phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
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stating online that "am not using anti-virus software in my computer" is quickly labeled as plain stupidity. but as a Mac user, I haven't for past 10-15 years.

am having some basic rules though 1) don't click "OK" to every popup browser displays 2) don't run server programs that listen network 3) check that firewall is on 4) turn off machine when its not used, don't leave it idle on net.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
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Well, I am one Apple user (iPhone and MacBook) that has had malware on my MacBook: basically, suing Safari, it would redirect me to a random website. Also Safari would occasionally lock up and be unusable, with a message demanding payment. This happened three or four years ago.

I am not technically minded, so a friend sorted it out for me.

Since then I have used F-Secure and have not had any problems: it works in harmony with Apple software and fairly regularly flags up dodgy websites.

Apple products are not immune to viruses, rare though infections appear to be, but for me it is better to be safe than sorry.

The following may assist:

https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/m...virus-3672182/
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarski View Post
4) turn off machine when its not used, don't leave it idle on net.

Unnecessary. A Mac is perfectly safe as long as you are not installing unknown software. My Mac is on 24 x 7 and is connected to the interwebs. 100% safe and I run no special software for any protection.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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Thanks you all for your answers which make sense and are what I'm doing since years.

Only I didn't consider point 3 from Godfrey suggestions (post 10) which I'll do next, thanks for suggestion G .

robert
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
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I was concerned about the risk of viruses and my Mac computers until I read (this may or not be true) that the Mac OS itself constitutes the best defense against any virus out there. Other than that, I have been always very careful with updates and never go where my computer tells me there's danger. Only once, a long time ago, when I was viewing videos as part of a clickbait website, I fell for a phony plug-in update announcement from Adobe... only to realize it was a software that wrecked my browser's ability to watch videos. After that, I learned my lesson and I am very careful about what I download into my computers.

But I'll keep my finger crossed.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
Unnecessary. A Mac is perfectly safe as long as you are not installing unknown software. My Mac is on 24 x 7 and is connected to the interwebs. 100% safe and I run no special software for any protection.
Yes likely unnecessary. But just for peace of mind if nothing else. And, these environmentally ultra aware times ...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
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It seems to me that people who have had Mac viruses or malware are the same people who complain that their bumper is scratched when they drive into things....

Another Mac user without problems here. You could never get me to use a Windows computer. Of course some day that may change. You never know.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #24
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When my Mac Air started acting up I took it in and they found 130 threats on it. Every one told me that I don't need anti-virus protection on a Mac computer. The guy at the store (Best Buy) told me that it's a myth to say you don't need protection. He said that a Mac is no different than any other computer. All computers are vulnerable.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #25
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Quote:
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It seems to me that people who have had Mac viruses or malware are the same people who complain that their bumper is scratched when they drive into things....
Really? (scratches head in puzzlement).
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Old 1 Week Ago   #26
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I think the Genius Bar person was basically right, "No need for anti-virus."

A couple of additional points:
- Some of the stuff marketed as anti-virus is criminal ware, specifically MacKeeper. Very, very bad stuff.
- Various unhappy things can happen to your browser as a result of web page visits. Malwarebytes will help correct these things. (e.g. sites that change your default search engine to something you don't want. Adware.)
- Need different, higher quality advice if you have especially sensitive concerns (corporate merger lawyer, spy, agitator against a totalitarian regime.)

My net: I don't use those products. I check computer occasionally with Malwarebytes.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #27
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... and... Godfrey's list is good.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #28
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Yes.

Godfrey’s list is excellent as a reference to do list.
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The Genius Bar Technician Is Right
Old 1 Week Ago   #29
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The Genius Bar Technician Is Right

Quote:
Originally Posted by faris View Post
Yes.

Godfrey’s list is excellent as a reference to do list.
Yes, it is.

OS X is, in fact, significantly less vulnerable to malware. For instance there has never been a wide-spread ransomware attack (such as WannaCry) on OS X.

As others mentioned, web browser's are the most significant software-based vulnerability. Apps that are not vetted by the Apple OS X App Store or not downloaded from authentic third-party vendor sites are another source of concern. These are easy to avoid.

OS X users who follow common sense procedures (keep software up to date) are mostly vulnerable to malware that requires direct user action. These are standard phishing and email impersonation attacks.

Even unsophisticated phishing and email impersonation attacks can be avoided by using two OS X accounts. One account has administrative privileges. This account is only used for updating software and other rarely needed administrative tasks. A second account that limits OS X background/automated execution privileges is used for every day work. This user account can prevent most malware from loading and, or running.

You will read FUD [1] press reports from security software companies attempting to scare OS X users (particularly those who switch from Windows). Some of these reports may be technically accurate but none of them have ever been used in wide-spread attacks on the consumer OS X installations.

There are valid press reports of OS X vulnerabilities. In some cases Apple has been slow to fix these. None of these have been used in large scale attacks. They have been used (mostly by governments and other sophisticated agents) for very specific purposes.

1. Fear, Uncertainty, Death - i.e. propaganda
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