needless viral hysteria

much has been made of the fact that there are no viruses for the mac, in contrast with windows which has approximately 108*2 to the power of 5 viruses.

but all over the mac internets today is the story of the first mac “virus”.

relax. the virus score is still windows three million, mac 0. or, depending on your definition of what constitutes a virus, windows three million, mac 1.

but it’s an eye opening experience, reading about this. and i’ve learned a lot.

here is a link to a very thorough, although technical, explanation of all this.

to get infected, you have to have downloaded this certain file from this certain somewhat obscure mac forum before it was deleted from said forum. or, possibly, you have to be on ichat with someone who has it, and their ichat has to successfully attempt to send it to you.

and if you get this, through ichat or whatever, you have to open it, and sometimes type in your password, and then you are infected.

and what happens if you are infected? absolutely nothing. no damage to your computer, except that it tries to send itself via ichat, if you use ichat, which i don’t.

this is obviously not much of a threat to anyone. it’s more proof-of-concept than anything. just some lone nut trying to make it work just for the sake of making it work, with no malicious intent. but there’s a lesson here.

i think mac users are far too complacent on this subject. and someone is going to come along and take advantage of their complacency. most infectious agents for the computer depend on user input, and this is much more true for the mac. you have to type in your password to allow something to happen, or you have to open the unfamiliar attachment, or whatever. and mac users are probably more likely to do this, because they have a false sense of security.

lesson learned for me? on your mac, create a second user, give it admin rights, turn off admin rights for your original account, make sure that the new admin account is the owner of all your apps, and going forward use your admin account to install software, upgrades, etc.

don’t ask me to translate that into specific steps. i’m not technical support, for chrissake. but in general, what you are doing is creating one account that has the right to modify your system, and then you are using that account whenever you want to intentionally modify that system. the rest of the time, you use your normal account, which does not have admin rights and therefore cannot be modified.

apple should do something to make this the default way of doing business.

and the osx virus? it’s not really a virus. it’s a trojan horse, if you ask me. if you ask the people who manufacture virus checking software, it of course is a virus because they want to sell your their product and they sell product through f.u.d. (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

but really, it ain’t a virus if you ask me.

windows three million (or so), mac 0.

but it’s a 0 with an asterisk. and i’m going to be more careful in the future.