back to article Even Apples sometimes have worms in them, admits Cupertino

Mac computers can be buggy, Apple has finally admitted. Two days ago the firm quietly pulled the claim that the iOS PCs are immune to viruses from its website. The purveyor of shinier-more-expensive desktops has replaced its former claim with the more cautious statement that Macs are "built to be safe". The change was made to …

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WTF?

iOS PCs?

That's a new development.

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Re: iOS PCs?

Just a sign the author really does know what he's writing about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS PCs?

Might it be considered a computer?

Might it be considered personal?

Well, gosh. Me, I'm still confused about why a mobile phone is running a network router operating system.

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Re: iOS PCs?

Nothing wrong with considering an iOS device a Personal Computer (as long as it's remembered that general equates 'PC' with a Windows machine)... but it still isn't a Mac, which run OSX.

Confusion might have been understandable several years ago amongst people who are not technology journalists, because the iPhone was introduced as running OSX (presumably because Apple hadn't yet acquired the name they wanted to use). Unlike Microsoft, Apple appears to see virtue in distinguishing between a finger-driven user interface and a WIMP user-interface, and have thus shown no desire to mash the two together.

Re: A network router operating system.

A rose by any other name... the name iOS was of more value to a consumer electronics company, who paid accordingly to use it, than it was to company who make kit for network engineers- engineers who would, I would imagine, have more experience at determining which version of of whatever of OS is running on which box.

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Re: iOS PCs?

Some facts for you:

1. Although Windows users keep calling Flashback a Mac virus, Flashback is NOT a “virus”. It is a Trojan, and there have been Trojans for the Mac (but not many) in the past. Unlike viruses, Trojans must be installed by the user on his/her own computer.

2. In the 12 years that Mac OS X has been in use by tens of millions of users, there has NEVER been even a single Mac virus in circulation.

3. Apple’s statement before this change is still true: “A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers.”. This is completely true as long as you are running Mac OS X. But… if you run Windows on a Mac (either in Boot Camp or in emulation), your Windows OS can get Windows viruses. Even though Windows viruses do not affect Mac OS X, it makes sense that this would be removed since some people do run Windows on their Macs. Apple has no way of stopping Windows viruses from infecting Windows installations.

4. The “After” statement is also true. OS X does “keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac”. However it is impossible for any company or person to stop anyone from unwisely downloading a Trojan and installing it themselves, if they make the bad decision to do this.

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Mushroom

Re: iOS PCs?

@Jurassic

Some actual facts for you:

1. The issue here has nothing to do with the various definitions of malicious code, and what category they fall into. It's the fact the Mac made the claim that such an attack could never happen, and it has. Aside from that, the definition Trojan has nothing to do with its delivery method. It could be deployed by a virus (self replicating malicious code), a worm (similar to a viral infection that spreads within a network infrastructure), a piece of malware, spyware or whatever. All the Trojan definition specifies is that it will give access, control, or information from your computer to someone else. Some people might even label remote administrative programs such as dameware, vnc, or logmein as a Trojan.

2. In 12 years apparently a lot of Mac users like to play word definitions games between what constitutes as a Virus. As you said, there have been Trojans in the past.

3. I'm not susceptible to the thousands of virus's that plague plant life, yet you don't hear me going around saying how I'm impervious to all infections. This is very similar to making the claim that a Mac can't get a Window's virus. Apples and Oranges as far as the code is concerned.

The lack of Virus's for mac's has very little to do with how secure or insecure the OS is, and has quite a bit to do with the lack of available targets compared to other alternative operating systems.

4. Your statement right here doesn't even make sense. Maybe you could try again to explain how a "Mac keeps you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software" if it can't prevent you from "unknowingly downloading malicious software”?

Also, your claim that it’s impossible for a company to develop this kind of protection is false. It's called a virus scanner.

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Re: iOS PCs?

@Jurassic

A trojan is a type of virus. The ones that install themselves are worms. But even if you only consider self-installing viruses then your statement that there's never been a Mac virus in circulation is still wrong. Just to name a few, Leap-A, Koobface, Inqtana have all been in the wild. They are not alone. OS X has long had viruses in the wild, despite Apple's irresponsible denial of the fact.

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Happy

Re: Flashback is NOT a "virus"...

Doh! Please post when a) a little more informed and b) not offering straw men for our consumption.

Traditional old-skool viruses are relatively thin on the ground. Trojans are where it's at these days. Windows PCs get infected cos people click on stuff they shouldn't; it's as simple as that. I clean this stuff up for a living; I'm reasonably qualified to make a qualitative assessment of the problerms out there.

So please stop clinging to the old saw that 'But Macs can only get trojans' - that's pretty much all that >any< machine can get, as it is damned hard to do a straight infection through an AV product these days. Thus 'old-skool' viruses (virii?) really don't figure much any more.

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Re: iOS PCs?

Just a sign the author really does know what he's writing about

If you are referring to Anna , she was on Ch4 news, a rather attractive lady!!

Aimee

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Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS PCs?

And that the comment author does neither... the article author appears female. ;)

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Re: iOS PCs?

@ Jurassic

Are you having a laugh?

Is he having a laugh?

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Re: iOS PCs?

If "PC" means a hardware agnostic MS Windows realization machine instead of Personal Computer, certainly. If not then surely Apple must have nothing to do with IBM's and Xerox's gifts to the rest of us in order for your statement to be even remotely true.

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Re: iOS PCs?

Every injection vector found in Unix was available in ALL of its progeny. Windows' issues regarding virus stems from its availability to content. My IIc had less than a dozen applications worth a toss while my 8086 would have been closer to 100 and we trafficked them on BBS across the globe.(shout out to EvilOtto in Oslo and LordOak for ThePoison) In the old days, think pre-Dark Avenger, it was a race playing connect the dots and the larger log was king dingaling and not some douche gaining root and nutting things. No one was even thinking of splooging all over the (oh so available to anyone with a student id) nix servers because that's where uber types were sequestering their tool kits, the kids (me) got their BBS/IRC info and those flogging term papers (big coin) hid their wares.

I'd bet we didn't see all the damage until those hard core types, think Iron Curtain countries, went postal over folks with infinitely less skills in the West bragging it up (the IRC logs were painful to read then, we were indeed a$$hat$) about the money being made in virgin IT territory. There were some seriously pissed types being left out of the loop then and people tend to forget those cats had to work with garbage gear so when we were moving into using more wordy languages for convenience sake because our new gear afforded us the cycles to get lazy with things, they were just writing tighter and tighter code. Some of them then decided to blacken a few eyes and boy did they ever.

Apple wasn't similarly afflicted not because Unix couldn't be hit but because MS was the most available face of the arrogant West and some cats wanted to put a fist into that face.

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Not. It gets MAC ones.

DUH.

Maybe PC makers will start saying they don't get MAC viruses or something - marketing departments really don't think further than the next line of copy, do they. I guess that's why they're marketing depts though.

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"The previous write-up claimed: "It doesn't get PC viruses. A Mac doesn't get the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers."

...I'm really not trying to apologise for Apple here, but considering that Macs can run Windows, it is simply flat out wrong to suggest they don't get PC viruses, as a Mac running Windows is as susceptible to PC viruses as a Windows PC is. I honestly suspect that's what this change in advertising is about.

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I want to know when a MAC was not a PC? PC = Personal Computer. Are all MACs business machines?

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I think the point is that Mac's dont run Windows out of the box.

Anyone can install Windows post purchase - its not the same thing.

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"I want to know when a MAC was not a PC?"

When it was the address of a network card?

'PC' is colloquially taken to mean Windows PC, much like 'hacker' no longer means what it originally meant.

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Anonymous Coward

re: taken to mean Windows PC

More likely "IBM compatible" - Windows doesn't define the hardware architecture, running as it does/did on ARM and Alpha as well as X86.

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Anonymous Coward

A MAC is not a Mac

<eom>

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Pint

Mac are not PC's?

"...PC for Windows PC"

Then what do you call a computer that run Linux?

Is it not a PC?

And a Mac that run Linux and/or Windows?

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Re: Mac are not PC's?

"Then what do you call a computer that run Linux?"

A Linux box, and / or Linux Workstation or Linux Server.

"Is it not a PC?"

Sure it's a personal computer (in some cases) however the colloquial term PC means Windows PC workstation.

"And a Mac that run Linux and/or Windows?"

A dual-booting Mac.

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Trollface

What's a MAC?

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Boffin

My dusty neurons tell me it's Mean Aerodynamic Chord.

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Media Access Control

(Address)

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What's a MAC?

Migration Authorisation Code; what BT are dragging their heels in providing now that I've finally bothered my arse to switch my parent's broadband.

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Trollface

Multicultural AIDS Coalition

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Coat

One of these.

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Anonymous Coward

But OS X/iOS CAN'T get Windows viruses, unless they can run PEs with some kind of compatibility layer. The claim is actually true. However, malware can be written for OS X etc like any system (hell, they're BSD-based, I'm surprised we haven't seen Kaiten-variants flooding the market yet). Whether malware exists for a system isn't really worth discussing; it does, for nearly every system (I've never seen malware specifically for Plan 9 From Bell Labs though), their security is down to how good the programming team working for them is, and how good their attitude towards patching is.

I can't comment on their coding skills, because I have never audited Apple software myself, but Apple have a pretty lax attitude towards security patching, as the Flashback incident proved. I don't see why they take several weeks to implement a patch that someone else has written.

Everything else is (including getting client-sided, the primary way to spread malware these days) pretty much nothing to do with the OS and entirely to do with the user.

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Headmaster

PC

A Mac is still a PC. If there is a virus that a Mac can be infected with, then the claim was patently false advertising.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PC

>"A Mac doesn't get the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers."

It's not ethical advertising, but I don't think you can really argue it was false. I am pretty certain Apple, a titan with many legal assaults on others under their belt, are careful enough to avoid being done by something so obvious.

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FAIL

A Mac doesn't get the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers.

It gets it's own special viruses! Especially written for the platform.

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Happy

Re: PC

You must have missed the stories about the Oz authorities fining Apple for claiming their phones are 4G.

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JDX
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Re: PC

A Mac can get Windows viruses if you use BootCamp. This is not some hacky "void your warranty" thing, BootCamp is mainstream software on the Mac.

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Re: PC

>A Mac can get Windows viruses if you use BootCamp. This is not some hacky "void your warranty" thing, BootCamp is mainstream software on the Mac.

BootCamp is included with the Mac but Windows is not. You won't get PC viruses just because you have BootCamp - you also have to go out and purchase a copy of Windows, agree to is EULA (something about Microsoft not being liable for damage to your computer?), install it it, and run it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: avoid being done by something so obvious

Like 4G networking, you mean?

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Re: PC

Not really "false", maybe, but certainly misleading and I'm pretty sure the ASA would agree. And Apple have been bitten by ASA on many occasions for stretching the truth just a little bit too far.

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Re: It's not ethical advertising

There's ethical advertising?

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Trollface

Flashback trojan

Aren't mac users already zombies?

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FAIL

iOS PCs?

Can we replace Anna Leach with someone that knows what a computer is please?

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Trollface

Re: iOS PCs?

And learn how to spell numbers. 650,00 doesn't compute.

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Re: iOS PCs?

PC is an acronym for Personal Computer, there is no mention made of any specification beyond that it is a computer for one person to use.

So there's nothing technically wrong with calling a Mac an iOS PC in the same way you have a Windows PC and a Linux PC.

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve

Except Mac computers don't run iOS (outside of the Xcode simulator that is)

Are you a friend of Ms Leach?

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Facepalm

Re: @Steve

D'oh, yes, sorry... Missed the point on that.

Nope, not a friend of Ms Leach, just not enough coffee in the system yet!

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Gimp

Re: iOS PCs?

Ms Leach really knows how to stir up the fanbois!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS PCs?

...knows how to stir up anyone with a minimal background in computing, really. Never fixes her mistakes either, which makes some of her comments even more unctuous.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "never fixes mistakes"

Much the same as every other writer for el Reg with the notable exception of Lewis Page.

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Mushroom

Class action lawsuit in 3,2,1......

"But you sold me a computer that couldn't get viruses and now it turns out it can"

It's not like Apple aren't quick off the mark to launch legal action - watch this space for the disgruntled Fanbois.

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Boffin

300 000 to 7, last time I looked, is the threat-count Windows vs Mac OS X. Apple simply claim Macs cannot get infected by the 300 000 threats that plague Windows ... what is wrong with that?

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Boffin

Comparing useless numbers

So that's 299,993 more viruses for Windows PC's!

But what are the magnitude of those threats? What damage will be done if they are encountered?

Most Windows PC users run some sort of anti-virus scanner. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of Mac PC's are running around unprotected. After all, why scan for viruses on an operating system that doesn't get viruses?

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