I have wondered the same. Your post motivated me to dig up and article where the author is doing a search on Network Associates Virus Information Library. (august 2003)
[...snip...]out of 579 total viruses which affect some versions of the Mac operating system, you'll notice that the vast majority of their names start with a WM/ or XM/. I checked these out, and sure enough, this means that they're a Macro virus which runs exclusively on some versions of--you guessed it--Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel (there are a few Word/Excel Macro viruses which don't have WM/ or XM/ in their names as well). In fact, over 95% of these so-called "Mac" viruses are actually directly made possible by Microsoft software. If you take these out of the equation, which seems reasonable to me since there are solid alternatives on the Mac to Word and Excel, just as there are alternatives to Windows itself, you're left with the following number of viruses that affect the Mac and can't be blamed on Microsoft in any way, shape or form: 26.
Yes, that’s right: 26 out of a total of over 71,000.
However, I've left out one of the most important factors here: All 26 of these, along with the other 553 Word/Excel Macro viruses, were designed for the OLDER versions of the Mac OS (and the older versions of Word/Excel, to be fair). None of this has anything to do with Mac OS X, which is the relevant system to look at.
If you remove the viruses which don't affect OS X, you know what you're left with--at least, as of this writing, and to the best of my knowledge?
This is a really annoying subject... All of the major antivirus companies keep talking about the OSX compatibility of their products, but I've yet to see one of them identify an OSX virus by name. Interesting, eh?
Sophos a couple of months ago came out with a "major" virus analysis, which put the "top rated Mac virus" at number 76... but again, failed to identify it. Searching their webspace for info is futile.
Total 100% waste of time and money. 7 Dust is ancient 1999 and I've seen it ONCE on a 8.1 system. THERE ARE NO MAC VIRUSES.
The only issue is if you happen to be the conveyor belt for macro viruses via a Microsoft document that you happen pass along.
My take - let'em fix their own problems. It won't affect your Mac other than wasting your time and money in checking for them
There are mac viruses. Don't listen to what anyone says. While they are few and far between, they do happen to infect peoples computers. While Mac OS X has no publically known viruses yet and there are still few for Mac OS 9, viruses such as 666 and sevendust do indeed exist and can destroy your computers data.
While I personally do not have a virus protector on my laptop, I do enforce virus security on my web and file servers. You never know when it will pop up and get the best of you.
Case in point: about 6 months ago, I dealt with a company that had been infected by the sevendust strain. The design company is comprised of both Macs and PCs and they have one centralized shared file server.
Their central server for email is Microsoft Exchange. Mac client A downloads file with virus, works off of file server for a couple of hours, copies finished work to the server, for the next designer to work on. Client B is now infected. To make a long painful story about virus protection short, the virus ended up getting onto every single mac and causing large hard crashes and loss of productivity.
It took me over 2 weeks to clean it all off of the servers. The problem we found that was overlooked was that the virus kept reappearing out of no where. The virus was actaully being backed up to AIT tape nightly. A designer would have to unarchive files and the virus once again spreads throughout the company. Cleaning out the tapes were the most time consumming part.
To not worry about viruses on the mac is a stupid thing, becuase everyone sits and laughs at PC's right now because they are consitatnly getting hammered by worms and the like.
We sit in our eutopia without a care in the world, but lets be honest here. With all the attention the Mac has gotten lately about being safer and more secure, you can bet that there are at least a couple of dozen people out there trying to figure out how to take down our Mac OS X boxes and show the world that yes, even we, the small niche market that is Mac can quickly sucumb to the destruction of a virus.
I am sure all these programmers out there also want to be able to say that they were the first hacker/virus programmer to take claim to developing and deploying the first virus for Mac OS X.
Someones gotta do it, and if you think it won't happen...dream on. It will, then what will you do? Simply put; a $70.00 program could save you thousands of dollars in damage later on down the line.
Briefly, the author supports the idea that Unix-like systems like OS X and Linux are inherently more secure than Windows. Thus, even if OS X and Linux became wildly popular, the idea that they would therefore become the targets of many successful virus attacks is false.
Hey CubaMark, that LEM article on the Switchback virus is a joke. "Ann Onymus" typically writes such things, and the particular column, "The Lite Side", is aptly named as a vehicle of humour. The combination of "Ann Onymus" writing for the Lite Side led to that rather tongue in cheek portrayal of a mythical OSX virus. It is amazing, though, to see how many threads around the 'net picked that "story" up and ran with it as if it were true.
I've been an internet user with a POWERMAC since 1996 and in 8 years I did find ONE virus on my MAC. I was always told not to worry, no one bothers to write viruses for the small amount of MAC users out there. So I never bothered to run virus software protection. Then in 1999 just for a lark I installed a copy of Norton Anti Virus that I picked up at a computer store clearance sale for $10.00 and it found a virus. I was shocked at first and then angry. All the MAC users I knew that told me no viruses existed for a MAC, boy were they wrong. It was the 666 virus and when I read the report of what it does I was lucky because I was only a couple of days away from it launching. For those of you who don't know the 666 virus starts erasing the files on your hard drive on the 6th month, 6th day at the 6th hour. BUT! This was 4 years ago running on the old system 8.6 OS. Are there any OS X viruses? Who knows and I don't want to be the first to find out either. I feel that we've been very lucky thus far, but are number has to be up soon. We're such easy targets. We're too friendly. I think WINDOWZ viruses only exist because end users are pissed at Microsoft for writing sh***y operating systems. I'm not serious by the way, I do use WINBLOWZ machines at work and they do get the job done, WHEN they're working. I've had a lot of downtime at work on WINDOWS computers because of viruses. Oh well, at least my MAC's at home have never let me down.
How the hell did I get on a cut up Microsoft tangent. Sorry Bill, nothing personal but I like my G5.
-------------------------------------------------- "You've got to get through that door." - Johnny Depp in Ed Wood