Malware Hits OS X; No Major Damage
February 16, 2006 1:59 PM
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But OS X users remain adamant that their system is highly secure and much less likely to suffer than a Windows system
Circulating reports are saying that Apple users have their first major case of malware infecting OS X. Understandably, OS X users rarely -- if ever -- have to worry about viruses and spyware running rampant on their systems. A number of factors of course, contribute to this. First of all, OS X is based entirely on a different OS architecture with entirely different security models than Windows XP. The second factor is that OS X isn't as widely used. A lot of power users argue that even if OS X was as popular, infection rates would hardly change simply because of the fact that OS X is considered to be a "superior" OS, containing a myriad of UNIX/Linux features not found on a Windows environment.
The malware, classified as a worm
, appears to be an instant-messaging worm that anti-virus outfit Sophos calls OSX/Leap-A. According to Sophos, OSX/Leap-A deletes files from a user's computer and leaves other files behind.
Some aliases that OSX/Leap-A is known under are:
Windows users on the other hand face spyware, viruses, trojans, and a heap of other software and system attacks on a daily basis.
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Security, with OS's, is a human issue, not a technology issue
2/16/2006 8:46:18 PM
For all the ivory tower talk and posturing of "elitist" Mac fanatics (and devotees of other non-Windows OS's, for that matter), what they won't talk about is the human factor of computer and network security. The blame is directed toward, and the fix must accordingly come from, Microsoft or the company/product-du-jour.
How is it, then, that some Windows users don't get viruses and spyware... even without antivirus programs and spyware killers? Is it a Jesus thing? No... it's a smart thing. Stupidity carries a price (or at least it should, anyway).. and in this Internet and Information Technology age we live in, the price of stupidity includes things like spyware and viruses.
I'd really like to see people stop blaming Microsoft for the consequences of people leaving passwords taped to the sides of their monitors, clicking on the "Win A Free TV!" pop-up windows, clicking on the links in the "Update Your Account Info" emails, and searching far and wide on the Internet for "information" that is neither accurate nor important.
Did the computer/OS/Internet fail you... or did *you* fail you? More often than not, it's the latter.
RE: Security, with OS's, is a human issue, not a technology issue
2/17/2006 3:00:32 AM
To a large degree, I do agree with you. People should try to be safe and educated when using a computer today because there is so much of this stuff flying around and it tends to get more and more sophisticated. This said, should we accept that we have to be educated in these things? It's fine to talk about being careful and educated when we think of the younger age groups that grew up with computers, and eventually we all will be, but the older generation (not all, I should note) don't get it and OS and application manufacturers should do their best to ensure that potential (and known) holes in security are filled rather than leaving it up to the user to ensure that no "bad" software arrives on their computer.
In regards to this specific trojan, it could (theoretically, at least) be stopped by having the operating system ask the user to acknowledge that they are starting an application the first time that a .app file is run, or have it check archive files being received over the network for executables in the same way that it already alerts to applications being downloaded. Sure, we can leave it up to the user to ensure that what they are downloading or receiving from a chat buddy is OK but there are simple ways of preventing harm.
At the end of the day the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I highly agree that the human factor is most probably the weakest link these days but surely all steps that can be employed to protect that link should be rather than "hoping" that it doesn't fuck-up.
RE: Security, with OS's, is a human issue, not a technology issue
2/17/2006 6:52:14 AM
Yes, we should accept that we have to be educated in these things. Education, in some form, is required to do just about everything in life and using a computer that is connected to the Internet or to an intranet is no exception.
Microsoft and others don't just "leave it up to the user". If they did, no patches or fixes would ever be introduced. The ultimate responsibility rests with the user to take advantage of both the features of and fixes for the operating systems they use. These features and fixes were provided for the user's benefit. If the user doesn't apply them or chooses to remain ignorant about them, is that Microsoft's fault? No, it's not.
Training and education are readily available. The tips, warnings, patches, and fixes are also readily available. Choosing to remain ignorant is every person's right... but with that right comes responsibility for the consequences of that choice.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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