Viruses on the Mac

1 minute read

The Mac does have a fine record against viruses, and not only because it still has a smaller market share than the PC does; its UNIX background made it harder for malware to get into the file system in the first place. On top of that, UNIX came into existence in 1969, has been improved and fixed much since then (‘hardened,’ in computing language), and was multi-user, network-oriented from the get-go. The younger Microsoft Windows—originally single-user, non-networked—was susceptible to viruses and trojan horses until 2002, when Microsoft went ‘all in’ on security—just a year prior I had built a Windows 2000 server, plugged it into the network to download and install the recommended SP2 (‘service pack 2’), and within one minute the machine had been infected by another machine on our Marquette local area network. Now that’s a bad security situation; one machine has a virus and is constantly scanning the network for susceptible machines, while a new machine innocently connects to the world and is promptly violated.

Microsoft learned its lesson, though, and now joins Apple’s OS X in scrutinizing what programs can be loaded. In the Mac world at least, if you get malware, it’s almost certain that you permitted a program to run or be installed that does nasty things. So my tack on my Mac is that I don’t install programs I don’t know about, or whose publishers aren’t well-known. It’s worked for me since I left the PC for the Mac, four years ago. One should also avoid going to the darker places on the Internet, or trying to get free, cheap, or hacked software. My computing life has entered a minimalist phase. Get only a few programs, learn the heck out of them, and you’ll get done 95% of the things you need done; the other 5% you can trouble-shoot—carefully.