General Question

afghanmoose's avatar

How secure is a mac?

Asked by afghanmoose (554points) November 30th, 2008 from iPhone

Against viruses,spyware,hackers.can i use an out of the coutry secure server,encryption,all that stuff

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17 Answers

wilhel1812's avatar

I work at an Apple Premium Reseller and use a mac at least 8 hours a day and i have never experienced any viruses, spywares or people that have been hacked. Sure, people say it exists, but that’s my experiences. I run my mac at standard, out of the box security settings
(well, actually i’ve made it less secure by opening access to a lot of stuff through the network)

PupnTaco's avatar

For the most part, virii, spyware, & adware don’t exist for the Mac. The exceptions are rare.

Macs include a built-in firewall.

simpleD's avatar

The Mac is the most secure OS out there. There are currently no known viruses in the wild. That said, use the built in Firewall and maybe a 3rd party for more fine-grained control. Hackers can still try to find an open port and do a password attack to get in. Use a strong passphrase. Don’t open attachments that you aren’t expecting to receive, or that come from questionable sources. And don’t send out clear-text passwords on an unsecured network.

jtvoar16's avatar

I agree with everyone. I have heard about a few “viruses” popping up in recent months, but they are dumb little things, that aren’t harmful, as much as annoying. (I had one that would cause my Safari to crash if I went to the same website twice in a day… WTH? I mean, why would you write something like that? I fixed it in about 10 seconds by using Time Machine.)

The best part of Mac OS X is the fact that it is nearly impossible to write any kind of destructive virus that can make it’s way onto your computer, with out you knowing, or it being erased by things like Time Machine. (By erased, I mean you get the virus, and then simply restore to a point before the virus, which is SO AMAZINGLY EASY!) The other great part is Mac is constantly changing their OS, so even as they become more and more popular, it will still be as hard to write something malicious as it is today, only cause of constant version changes. On top of all that, Apple has a massive team of people working everyday to find malicious programs and prevent them from entering peoples systems, ether by paying off the person who wrote it, or immunizing your mac to it with an update.

So, in summery. Macs are incredibly safe. I am not going to say they are the safest, as any OS you write yourself would be the safest, but most people don’t have the 5 years to devote to something like that, so, the next best thing is Mac OS.

One little note I would like to point out though, well two actually: Macs do a great job of making Vista PC’s incredibly unsafe, as is my experience (My mother has a Vista Laptop and does not share here Users folder, yet, with my mac, I can access it as a Guest, but that is Windows problem, not mac.) The other point is, if you don’t check your security settings out-of-box, it is possible for people to easily take your Mac over, but you appear to be an individual like myself, and always check setting before doing anything else. I have never worried about it being a problem. The only time I have problems is when my friend and I are gaming and he uses his mac to take control of my mac, thus causing me to die… A LOT.

eambos's avatar

Mac is not the most secure OS, and actually far from it. Every year at the world wide hacker convention, DEFCON, Mac is almost invariably the first to get hacked. Windows comes second, and Linux usually isn’t even hacked at the convention. In terms of hackability, Mac os is easiest, Linux is hardest.

I love Windows Vista, It’s just many manufacturers try to run it on hardware that isn’t good enough. I’ve got 8 gigs ram, a top of the line video card and a processor clocked at 3.8ghz. Windows Vista is one of the best user experiences I’ve ever had (on this hardware), and I have to use OSX daily. If I could, I would remove macs from my life entirely.

lefteh's avatar

I disagree with ranking the security of a computer based on a bunch of geeks in Las Vegas with a stopwatch.

iwamoto's avatar

agree with lefteh, i remember last time they broke OS X it was on, i believe the 2nd day, with user input, so, going to a site to load malicious code, so yeah, if you’re clever enough to just click every link…oh well, didn’t they add some filters on the new safari ?

in the end it’s all user dependent, today i was cleaning a buddy’s windows laptop, and he asked me how i dealt with it, and i told him the whole mac story, and he almost refused to believe me

DeanV's avatar

using bittorrent/ p2p, i will occasionally come across a virus (i scan all of my files with clamxav), but most are windows targeted and safe…

there are some viruses out there, but few are good enough to break a firewall and a smart user

richardhenry's avatar

The only malware currently available for OS X are trojan horses.

A trojan horse is software that pretends to do something else, in order to get you to supply your administrator password so it can do it’s stuff.

The most common ones pretend to be video codecs, which you are told you “require” to view some sort of “content” on some particularly dodgy “website”.

Just don’t ever enter your administrator password unless you know what you’re doing, and you’ll be fine.

richardhenry's avatar

Linux vs OS X Security:

Architecturally, OS X and Linux are rather similar, and at the core have similar security design that prevents things like privilege escalation or permission attacks.

However, because every install of OS X is the same, if an exploit is discovered it applies to every single Mac in the wild. On the other hand, every Linux install is often wildly different, and is therefore harder to target.

But does that qualify as a security feature?

Say for example a computer manufacturer started to install a specific Linux distro and software set on boxes as they come out of the factory, if a flaw is found in one of them, all of them can be targeted. Does that make Linux any safer than OS X?

I also think it’s dubious that the majority of Linux security tests use default distro software. Firefox is by far the most popular web browser on the platform, yet is often neglected from tests even though it may be possible to use it as an exploit. Firefox has a similar security track record to Safari.[1]

Linux’s primary security feature is obscurity and diversity.

[1] Although I grant that Apple lose brownie points for being slower to react to problems than the Mozilla community.

Skyrail's avatar

Lots of lovely answers above. Kind of.

I find that anything is only as secure as the user makes it.

You may have a 20inch thick steel door, but if you don’t lock it…

maccmann's avatar

Mac OS X is built on the same BSD kernel as a Linux box out with a user-friendly interface which comes ready out of the box so that the user doesn’t have to get all “geeky” and configure every little thing themselves like they would with Linux. If you have enuf geek in you and enuf patience, try Linux. Hey, why not? It’s free after all.

If you want something ready to go and secure, go Mac.

And I call BS on the DEFCON report above. I go there. I have seen it. The “hacking” which was referred to here is not as fast or as easy as the report leads one to believe.

Now Vista? Hacked in minutes EVERY TIME. Don’t go there. Vista isn;t a server platform anyhow, so why it was even mentioned I haven’t a clue.

rooster's avatar

The mac is very safe, however if you run OSX 10.5 in stealth mode, you are not only invisible to everyone and anyone on any network, you will most certainly never receive any viruses, spyware or attention on the network what so ever

afghanmoose's avatar

Is it always in stealth mode?

iwamoto's avatar

no, you have to turn it on in the “surprise surprise” security pannel in the system preferences

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