[accesscomp] Fw: Do Non-Windows Platforms Like Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux Get Viruses? Dan's tip for Thursday November 21 2013

  • From: "Bob Acosta" <boacosta@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "tektalk discussion" <tektalkdiscussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 07:40:40 -0800

----- Original Message ----- 
From: dan Thompson 
To: dan Thompson 
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 7:32 AM
Subject: Do Non-Windows Platforms Like Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux Get 
Viruses? Dan's tip for Thursday November 21 2013 

Do Non-Windows Platforms Like Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux Get Viruses? 



by HTG 


Viruses and other types of malware seem largely confined to Windows in the real 
world. Even on a Windows 8 PC, you can still get infected with malware. But how 
vulnerable are other operating systems to malware?


When we say "viruses," we're actually talking about malware in general.  
However, There's more to malware than just viruses 

although the word virus is often used to talk about malware in general.  We all 
know that Windows is the most malware-ridden platform out there, but why is 
that? Not all of the malware out there is for Windows, but most of it is. We've 
tried to cover why Windows has the most viruses in the past. Windows' 
popularity is definitely a big factor, but there are other reasons, too. 
Historically, Windows was never designed for security in the way that UNIX-like 
platforms were - and every popular operating system that's not Windows is based 
on UNIX.

Windows also has a culture of installing software by searching the web and 
downloading it from websites, whereas other platforms have app stores and Linux 
has centralized software installation from a secure source in the form of its 
package managers.



Do Macs Get Viruses?

The vast majority of malware is designed for Windows systems and Macs don't get 
Windows malware. While Mac malware is much more rare, Macs are definitely not 
immune to malware. They can be infected by malware written specifically for 
Macs, and such malware does exist.

At one point, over 650,000 Macs were infected with the Flashback Trojan. It 
infected Macs through the Java browser plugin, which is a security nightmare on 
every platform.  Macs no longer include Java by default.  


Apple also has locked down Macs in other ways. Three things in particular help:

·         1.  Mac App Store: Rather than getting desktop programs from the web 
and possibly downloading malware, as inexperienced users might on Windows, they 
can get their applications from a secure place. It's similar to a smartphone 
app store or even a Linux package manager.

·         2.  Gatekeeper: Current releases of Mac OS X use Gatekeeper, which 
only allows programs to run if they're signed by an approved developer or if 
they're from the Mac App Store. This can be disabled by geeks who need to run 
unsigned software, but it acts as additional protection for typical users.

·         3.  XProtect: Macs also have a built-in technology known as XProtect, 
or File Quarantine. This feature acts as a blacklist, preventing 
known-malicious programs from running. It functions similarly to Windows 
antivirus programs, but works in the background and checks applications you 
download. Mac malware isn't coming out nearly as quick as Windows malware, so 
it's easier for Apple to keep up.



Macs are certainly not immune to all malware, and someone going out of their 
way to download pirated applications and disable security features may find 
themselves infected. But Macs are much less at risk of malware in the real 


Android is Vulnerable to Malware, Right?

The media is full of reports saying Android malware is exploding and that 
Android users are at risk.  Android malware does exist and companies that 
produce Android security software would love to sell you their Android 
antivirus apps. But that isn't the full picture. By default, Android devices 
are configured to only install apps from Google Play. They also benefit from 
antimalware scanning - Google Play itself scans apps for malware.

You could disable this protection and go outside Google Play, getting apps from 
elsewhere ("sideloading"). Google will still help you if you do this, asking if 
you want to scan your sideloaded apps for malware when you try to install them.

In China, where many, many Android devices are in use, there is no Google Play 
Store. Chinese Android users don't benefit from Google's antimalware scanning 
and have to get their apps from third-party app stores, which may contain 
infected copies of apps.

The majority of Android malware comes from outside Google Play. The scary 
malware statistics you see primarily include users who get apps from outside 
Google Play, whether it's pirating infected apps or acquiring them from 
untrustworthy app stores. As long as you get your apps from Google Play - or 
even another secure source, like the Amazon App Store - your Android phone or 
tablet should be secure.


What About iPads and iPhones?

Apple's iOS operating system, used on its iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, is 
more locked down than even Macs and Android devices. iPad and iPhone users are 
forced to get their apps from Apple's App Store. Apple is more demanding of 
developers than Google is - while anyone can upload an app to Google Play and 
have it available instantly while Google does some automated scanning, getting 
an app onto Apple's App Store involves a manual review of that app by an Apple 

The locked-down environment makes it much more difficult for malware to exist. 
Even if a malicious application could be installed, it wouldn't be able to 
monitor what you typed into your browser and capture your online-banking 
information without exploiting a deeper system vulnerability.

Of course, iOS devices aren't perfect either. Researchers have proven it's 
possible to create malicious apps and sneak them past the app store review 
process. However, if a malicious app was discovered, Apple could pull it from 
the store and immediately uninstall it from all devices. Google and Microsoft 
have this same ability with Android's Google Play and Windows Store for new 
Windows 8-style apps.


Does Linux Get Viruses?

Believe it or not, there are antivirus programs targeted at desktop Linux 
users. If you have just switched to Linux..  Malware authors don't tend to 
target Linux desktops, as so few average users use them. Linux desktop users 
are more likely to be geeks that won't fall for obvious tricks.

As with Macs, Linux users get most of their programs from a single place 

the package manager 


rather than downloading them from websites. Linux also can't run Windows 
software natively, so Windows viruses just can't run.

Linux desktop malware is extremely rare, but it does exist. The recent "Hand of 
Thief" Trojan supports a variety of Linux distributions and desktop 
environments, running in the background and stealing online banking 
information. It doesn't have a good way if infecting Linux systems, though - 
you'd have to download it from a website or receive it as an email attachment 
and run the Trojan. 

This just confirms how important it is to only run trusted software on any 
platform, even supposedly secure ones.


What About Chromebooks?


Chromebooks aren't like traditional laptops. They're locked down by default, 
only booting Google-approved operating systems in their default state. 
Chromebooks are locked down laptops that only run the Chrome web browser and 
some bits around it. We're not really aware of any form of Chrome OS malware. A 
Chromebook's sandbox helps protect it against malware, but it also helps that 
Chromebooks aren't very common yet.

It would still be possible to infect a Chromebook, if only by tricking a user 
into installing a malicious browser extension from outside the Chrome web 
store. The malicious browser extension could run in the background, steal your 
passwords and online banking credentials, and send it over the web. Such 
malware could even run on Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of Chrome, but it 
would appear in the Extensions list, would require the appropriate permissions, 
and you'd have to agree to install it manually.



And Windows RT?


Windows RT is a special edition of Windows 8. It runs on ARM and you'll find it 
alongside Intel x86.   Microsoft's Windows RT only runs desktop programs 
written by Microsoft. Users can only install "Windows 8-style apps" from the 
Windows Store. This means that Windows RT devices are as locked down as an iPad 
- an attacker would have to get a malicious app into the store and trick users 
into installing it or possibly find a security vulnerability that allowed them 
to bypass the protection.


Malware is definitely at its worst on Windows. This would probably be true even 
if Windows had a shining security record and a history of being as secure as 
other operating systems, but you can definitely avoid a lot of malware just by 
not using Windows.

Of course, no platform is a perfect malware-free environment. You should 
exercise some basic precautions everywhere. Even if malware was eliminated, 
we'd have to deal with social-engineering attacks like phishing emails asking 
for credit card numbers.


Below are some related articles that offer much more valuable information.

HTG Explains: Why Windows Has the Most Viruses



HTG Explains: Does Your Android Phone Need an Antivirus?



HTG Explains: Why You Don't Need an Antivirus On Linux (and When You Do)




HTG Explains: How Software Installation & Package Managers Work On Linux







Verse and Thought:

The  Lord is my helper

Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for 
he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently 
say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (ESV) 

Inspiring Thought: The Lord is My Helper

In these hard times of extreme economic instability, it's easy to lose focus, 
take our eyes off God, and begin to worry about money. But, not only does the 
Lord say, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," the wise old Psalmist 
observed in Psalm 37:25, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their 
children begging bread." 

If you find yourself fretting today, let this passage infuse you with 
confidence in the Lord's ability to take care of you. God is your helper! Do 
not fear! 


If close enough, You are invited to a time of praise and prayer from 5:00 to 
6:00 every Tuesday held in the lounge at First Presbyterian Church 870 W. 
College Jacksonville, Il.   Come in the double glass doors by day care off of 
West Minster.  Turn right at the first set of double doors across from the coat 
closets.  Go up these stairs and turn left at the top.  

The lounge door will be opened and welcoming you in to God's open house of 
praise and prayer!



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  • » [accesscomp] Fw: Do Non-Windows Platforms Like Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux Get Viruses? Dan's tip for Thursday November 21 2013 - Bob Acosta