OS X Snow Leopard may have anti-virus built in

Apple loves to poke fun at the "thousands of viruses" Windows users have to watch out for, even in its latest ads. However, the company isn’t kidding itself—Macs get malware too. At least, we can’t think of a reason why else, as AppleInsider reports, the new Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard includes built-in virus protection.

A screenshot originally posted on the blog of Mac anti-virus firm Intego shows the feature in action: an alert that warns, "’install.pkg will damage your computer. You should move it to the Trash." The alert provides a little background information, telling the user when and how the file was downloaded, where it resides, and what malware it contains—in this case OSX.RSPlug.A. According to Symantec, that’s a low-risk trojan horse that changes DNS settings.

AppleInsider speculates that Apple contracted out Snow Leopard’s malware detection engine to a third-party firm. The site also points to a ZDNet blog post that echoes the speculation and states that Apple isn’t using ClamAV, an open-source anti-virus toolkit for *nix systems.

Comments closed
    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    l[

    • WaltC
    • 13 years ago

    /[

    • ludi
    • 13 years ago

    That reminds me, this just in for those shallow idgits in the Way Back When thread who complained about Lauren not being hot enough: Look past one particular change of clothes and hairstyle and see the /[http://cyberaxis.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/lauren-delong-blue-jeans-hot1.jpg<]§

    • ludi
    • 13 years ago

    The test is not “did you include feature ‘x’ which is anticompetitive?”, the test is “did you include feature ‘x’ which is anticompetitive while ALSO controlling an overwhelming majority of the market that can support feature ‘x’?”.

    Apple? Nope. Blackberry? Nope. Linux? Nope. Palm? Not even close. Microsoft? Very probably yes.

    So Microsoft gets slapped for going too far, and the rest get a free pass because their product design and support decisions cannot determine by fiat who does, and does not, get to play in the industry.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 13 years ago

    OSX hasn’t gone through nearly enough testing for exploits compared to many other commercial OSes. Reading the hack convention shows that OSX doesn’t even have memory remapping (widely available on freebsd, linux, windows, solaris, etc)!

    Growing pains will be had, there is no doubt.

    • TheShadowself
    • 13 years ago

    While Mac Fanbois thinking their systems are inherently secure and don’t need to ever think about malware is truly stupid in the extreme, the security through obscurity myth is just that: a myth.

    The perfect counterpoint is that there have been almost a trillion hours of Mac OS X usage out there (though Apple and Mac Fanwould probably place it much higher) with no known viruses or worms out in the wild for them (there have been at least six trojans). Compare this with the simple fact that in the first ten days after Vista was shipped to only 10,000 developers there was a true virus in the wild that specifically attacked Vista. True, it was not malicious and didn’t do much, but it existed. So about a trillion use hours with no viruses versus versus less than 2.4 million use hours and a virus. There are many many other counter examples people can name. So much for security through obscurity.

    No matter what anyone says to counter the delusions of the hard core Mac fans, they will believe erroneously they are inherently bulletproof. Keeping repeating the myth of security through obscurity only feeds them “proof” that the rest of the world does not know what we are talking about.

    • moshpit
    • 13 years ago

    Security through obscurity. Yup, totally agreed.

    • moshpit
    • 13 years ago

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! Holding my sides from the pain of laughing so hard! That was bloody well GREAT!

    • UberGerbil
    • 13 years ago

    Justin: You know, you can only get viruses from people who have viruses. And since you haven’t had me, /[

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    I just lol’d.

    • Irascible
    • 13 years ago

    Ditto. 8 years with no AV software on my PC. 8 years with no problems.

    • herothezero
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    When I used a PC at home (before switching to the Mac) I never ran anti-virus software and I never had any problems. I did run anti-malware software from time to time to deal with adware crap, though.

    So the anti-virus thing was not a big motivator for me in switching to the Mac, although I can see how it might be for others.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    I think that it’s appropriate to apply different rules to a monpolist (or near monopolist) than to other companies. Having said that, I think that anti-malware software is one case where I really do want the OS vendor to provide this software instead of a 3rd party. This is something that affects my experience using the entire system, not just one program. And who is better positioned than the developer of the OS to secure that OS and keep out bad programs? I think it’s a no-brainer that anti-malware software really ought to be a part of any OS — not a third-party add-on.

    • WaltC
    • 13 years ago

    By far OS X’s best virus/malware defense is its comparatively teeny-tiny market share, which in some countries is well under 1%. Those numbers just don’t indicate a payback for the scum that writes this stuff and so I think they aren’t much interested. Certainly not a bad thing for Apple–at least not nearly as bad as the market-share disparities…;)

    IIRC, my last windows virus was contracted circa 1998 from an email. Norton’s detected it and repaired the system immediately. At home with XP, which I used since ’01, and with VIsta x32/ x64 which I’ve used since ’07, I’ve seen pretty much absolutely nothing in the way of viruses and malware, to the degree that years ago I decided to see if I really needed specific AV and dropped my AV programs with the exception of the Microsoft Security Essentials beta, which I’m currently running.

    Oh, I know that these things exist for the Windows platform, without a doubt, but in my experience many if not most people contract them because they simply use very poor computing practices–old, out-of-date, unpatched OSes and browsers, and a distinct willingness to visit sites in which this sort of activity infests, like pay-to-pRon sites, for instance, or looking up pictures of celebrities through Google that take them to sites nobody’s ever heard of, etc. And, too, all too many people don’t know anything about hardware firewalls despite how ubiquitous and cheap they’ve become.

    I think it’s true that because of OS X’s market share that an interest in robotizing it isn’t apparent, but as far as my own Windows experience has developed over the years, I can’t see that as an advantage while I can see many disadvantages to restricting myself to OS X at any point. But judging by Apple’s numerous and regular security updates I think it’s a big positive that Apple is entertaining few illusions about the security of its user base. Thankfully, Apple is leaving the notion of an unhackable OS X to its marketing department and isn’t actually behaving that way at all…;)

    • ironoutsider
    • 13 years ago

    They’re gonna need all the antivirus they can get with the 1 Zillion viruses I’m prolly gonna spwns!!

    • Game_boy
    • 13 years ago

    I agree with you; the only complaint I agree with (not Media Player) is Internet Explorer bundling, because they directly make money out of it through search advertising. And even then only MS should do it as they fall into the definition of a monopoly and many people have no choice or awareness of the alternatives.

    • Skrying
    • 13 years ago

    It most certainly is anti-malware software, that’s the entire purpose of it. It’s highly limited scope doesn’t change what it is actually trying to accomplish.

    The better discussion is why the hell people believe a company shouldn’t be able to create software or any mechanism for that matter that secures their own product. I have a strong dislike for companies that whine when Apple or Microsoft bundle more features into their software suites (they stopped being an OS alone decades ago).

    I honestly don’t care if some anti-malware developer goes out of business because Apple or Microsoft found the magical code that prevents all security risks. There is no “right” to owning a business in a certain category and it being artificially maintained.

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    A furious furry.
    §[<http://www.frozentoy.com/blog/cute.jpg<]§

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    Don’t forget the id10t.vbs/dll/bin/pkg…

    • no51
    • 13 years ago

    No OS is safe from the clutches of pebkac.vbs/dll/bin/pkg. It’s undetectable by software.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    And it’s not like Apple can’t update the malware definition file as new ones come into existence. That’s what software update is for.

    It seems to me that this is a nice, simple, targeted solution to address the most likely mechanism by which a Mac user would ever be affected by malware. Instead of annoying users by asking for permission to do every little thing, or constantly scanning every file on all attached volumes, Apple’s approach here appears to be to look for known malware in files with the highest probability of being infected by malware — files downloaded off the Internet. Simple but effective enough to deal with the miniscule malware threat to mac users.

    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    l[

    • adisor19
    • 13 years ago

    No, that means it’s all the “viruses” that currently exist for the OS X. Also, i used “” around the term viruses, not because i’m unsure how to spell it but because they’re not really viruses. See, a virus spreads by taking advantage of a security flaw in the OS. Those 2 examples that Apple decided to block actually ask for the user to enter the password to allow them to be installed in the first place. Quite a difference.

    Adi

    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    Linux users: Every bit as guilty as Mac users when it comes to illusory notions of invulnerability.

    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    It is not the same, as it has no preventative capabilities. It runs when downloaded and attempts to remove any known malware but can not detect it entering the system and is incapable of stopping or even warning you when something malicious is downloaded, run, or even installed.

    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    trojans = malware
    trojan checker = malware checker
    claim that there are only two exploited vulnerabilities in OS X = lie
    Malware detection that only detects two items = bad malware detection

    • tay
    • 13 years ago

    No. There are no known viruses at this time. Those two trojans and their variants are the only real known problems at this time.
    No viruses = no virus checker…
    Trojans = trojan checker!

    • rctdude657
    • 13 years ago

    I like the furies better.

    • rctdude657
    • 13 years ago

    Highly doubtful for microsoft to drop prices to match Apple. There would be several million angry preorder customers. Now, If they sold 7 at the preorder price that wouldn’t be so bad, but you would still have people pissed off.

    On a side note, I thought Macs don’t get virus’. At least that’s whats all my mac friends tell me, and now that Apple is including av software, I’ve been lied to. I don’t like being lied to. Then again, Apple’s lied for a while also (about being impervious to ALL forms of malware, when clearly phishing is user caused, and there have been virus’/worms/trojans for macs in the past), so it must be a part of that Mac experience thing of lying to friends.

    EDIT: BTW, for those of you interested, I’m not a troll, I’ve been reading TR for about 1 yr, and in the past month have felt a bit compelled to write some comments.

    • Tamale
    • 13 years ago

    nonono, that’s when super linux man jumps into view and saves the day 😀

    • bthylafh
    • 13 years ago

    Leave the furries out of this.

    • moriz
    • 13 years ago

    there’s microsoft security essentials. it’s not bundled as of yet, since it is still in the beta stages. initial reviews seem to be favourable also.

    will it ever be bundled? probably not. if microsoft is smart, they’ll leave it off of the initial install and then “encourage” users to get it once windows update fires up.

    • Forge
    • 13 years ago

    MS was there first.

    §[<http://tinyurl.com/kvryxs<]§ Same thing as OSX's new 'antivirus', and MS has been pushing it as a mandatory download for years.

    • jdaven
    • 13 years ago

    This is not completely related to the story but it was just confirmed that the $29 upgrade to 10.6 will work for 10.4. Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” was released in 2005. That’s pretty good getting almost 5 years of new OS features for $29. You can also perform a clean install.

    §[<http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/08/27/apples_snow_leopard_disc_will_install_on_tiger_macs.html<]§ I wonder if Microsoft will follow suit and drop the their upgrade price for Windows 7 home premium to $29.

    • pedro
    • 13 years ago

    it does a checksum, no? so now, instead of busting open a terminal and typing ‘md5 example.pkg’ you have a gui instead…

    what’s the big deal?

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    Congradulations Apple, you’ve just turned into Miscrosoft with your OS that features anti-competitive programs.

    Imagine the furry if MS tried to include a built-in virus scanner! Oh, the Interwebz would be livid, and the EU would be rubbing their hands in glee! It seems Apple can bundle what-ever they want without fear of “anti-competition”, while MS can’t even sneeze without told their monopolistic.

    • VaultDweller
    • 13 years ago

    Doesn’t that just mean it’s really crappy anti-malware software?

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    Justin: Hey, I’m a Mac.
    John: and I’m a PC.
    Girl: and I’m Lauren.

    Justin: What can we do for you, Lauren?
    Lauren: Well, I want a computer that is fast–
    Justin: Okay,
    Girl(continues): Decently priced,
    John: Okay!
    Girl(continues): And doesn’t get like, a thousand viruses or bogs down or whatever.

    (Both Justin and John look at each other, not knowing what to say while lil’ baby music plays in the background.)

    (Que title card): “Don’t trust marketing efforts by large corporations.”

    • Game_boy
    • 13 years ago

    It looks for a whole two trojans. That’s it. It’s far from being anti-malware software.

    §[<http://www.osnews.com/story/22067/Snow_Leopard_s_Anti-Malware_Feature_Explained<]§

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