Down But Not Out

Viruses, Worms, Trojans, and OS X

Dirk Pilat - 2002.06.07

A very good day to you all!

While it is getting chillier down here at the end of the world, all around me colleagues, friends, and coworkers are straining from an increased viral load. No, I am not referring to hepatitis, influenza or herpes. I am, of course, talking about computer-viruses, worms, Trojan horses, etc. (as this is, and if anybody thinks this might be the New England Journal of Medicine you are certainly on the wrong website. And no, we don't have any Jenna Jameson pictures either).

As a Mac user, I have never really taken any notice of PC-borne viruses, as they just don't concern me, but recently my inbox has been flooded with emails from people unknown to me, asking me to have a look at their girlfriend or just to open the attachments (something very sneaky, isn't it?).

Now, I normally don't get asked to look at peoples girlfriends, and even if I would be asked, I would divert my eyes in shame, having the best ever girlfriend myself, so emails like that make me obviously suspicious. A recent feature on Slashdot deepened my suspicion: The Internet is utterly awash with infectious little binary packages created by big boys with small egos who are desperate for recognition.

I made a conscientious decision to run OS X and OpenBSD behind an OpenBSD firewall. In other words, it doesn't get much safer then that (apart from switching off my modem and hiding my computer under the bed). This means for me freedom of worry from most port-based attacks, freedom of worries from Windows email viruses/worms

The only question is: Does anybody know about any OS X viruses?

A quick Google check did not reveal any sources of concern, but let's be honest: Somewhere out there a kid with a grudge must be sitting in front of his dad's Cube, programming a quick and dirty OS X pathogen. My question to the community out there: Do you guys know about any threats that might be looming, or do you know about any loopholes in our defense from unwanted visitors? I would love to hear from you and feature any input in the next column.

Until then, protect your computers and stay away from Wintel machines - you might just catch a cold. LEM

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