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Small Number of Video iPods Shipped With Windows Virus
October 17, 2006 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Small Number of Video iPods Shipped With Windows Virus. As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it. Oops!
posted by defenestration (98 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
My guess is there's a manufacturer somewhere being torn a new port right now.
posted by imperium at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm a huge fan of Macs, but being "upset at windows for not being more hardy" is malarky; I'm sure that when you pop in an iPod on a mac for the first time they ask for the system password, at which point a clever virus would have free run of your OS X system.
posted by sohcahtoa at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2006


Note to Steve Jobs: any publicity is good publicity!
posted by mazola at 2:47 PM on October 17, 2006


This reeks of industrial espionage. Now who has lots of money and would like to see the iPod get a black eye on the eve of the release of their competing product?

Hmmm...
posted by mullingitover at 2:48 PM on October 17, 2006


"As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it."

That's pretty poor form.
posted by FYKshun at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2006


How the hell does something like this happen? Isn't there just some standard set of software that gets installed w/ each iPod at the factory? How does a virus get onto just a small number of iPods?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2006


"As you might imagine, we are upset with Apple for not making laptops better able to contain the blast, but even more upset with ourselves for shipping exploding batteries."

STFU. You know why everybody hates Apple users? Its a great product, no doubt; but at the end of the day, its still just a product. You aren't a superior person for owning one, and neither is the Hummer owner that many Apple owners sneer at. STFU, all of you.
posted by ChasFile at 2:54 PM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


If you leave the iPod plugged into a newish computer (Mac or PC) when rebooting the computer, the computer will probably try to boot from the iPod first, right? If you've put a virus on the iPod that will wipe the computer's hard drive, there isn't any operating system that will be "hardy" enough to resist this. By buying a piece of hardware you're trusting the manufacturer to not virus your computer. That really is pretty poor form.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:54 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that when you pop in an iPod on a mac for the first time they ask for the system password

Nope.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:55 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


How does a virus get onto just a small number of iPods?

I got it from the toilet seat!
posted by rxrfrx at 2:55 PM on October 17, 2006


If you leave the iPod plugged into a newish computer (Mac or PC) when rebooting the computer, the computer will probably try to boot from the iPod first, right?

Nope.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you leave the iPod plugged into a newish computer (Mac or PC) when rebooting the computer, the computer will probably try to boot from the iPod first, right?

Nope. Not on a Mac. Can't vouch for the others.
posted by imperium at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2006


sorry about that
posted by imperium at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2006


I'm in ur ipod, deleting ur tunes.
posted by bigmusic at 2:58 PM on October 17, 2006


Nope.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:59 PM on October 17, 2006


The virus in question copies itself to network and removable drives. Looks like whoever was doing the initial install on these ipods had the virus and it just spread itself across. Pretty sloppy system if your installation software is compromised enough to get a virus.
posted by scodger at 2:59 PM on October 17, 2006


at which point a clever virus would have free run of your OS X system

A windows virus isn't going to run on OS X, you would need to copy it to a Win32 machine.
posted by Lanark at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2006


No.
posted by Astro Zombie 2 at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2006


Nrrgggh.
posted by Astro Zombie 3 at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2006 [4 favorites]


Poor form indeed.

What would the iFanbois say if Microsoft made an official announcement that they were "upset at Apple for not controlling their supply chain?"

Remember, this is a fuckup by APPLE that INFECTS Windows products.

It's like a rapist being "upset" at the victim for giving him a bad reputation afterwards.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:05 PM on October 17, 2006


I'm in ur ipod, deleting ur tunes.

wait that's not right, it's

im in ur ipod, eating your windos
posted by bigmusic at 3:05 PM on October 17, 2006


I also think Astro has finally lost his marbles. We all knew this day was coming I think.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:06 PM on October 17, 2006


Just one more reason to move to a Mac.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:06 PM on October 17, 2006


As you might imagine, we are upset at InterBank for not being more hardy against burglars and even more upset with ourselves for robbing them.

As you might imagine, we are upset at Sally for being a filthy whore, and even more upset with ourselves for raping her.


Is this working?
posted by FYKshun at 3:08 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


[this is eponysterical]
posted by SteelyDuran at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


Attention all Apple product owners: you aren't getting paid for your marketing efforts. Not a dime.
posted by davebush at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2006


Someone must have gotten Astro Zombie wet and now he is reproducing very fast.
posted by micayetoca at 3:11 PM on October 17, 2006


Is it just me, or is the third Astro Zombie the least articulate of the three?

And answer me this Original Astro Zombie; I know you claim to be nothing more than a peaceful reanimation of dead tissue to built to survive the long cold voyages across the darkness of the cosmos. I know you claim that you don't hunger for the brains of your fellow MeFites, but look at this third copy of you. Do you deny that there is a distinctly shambling lurching-ness about his demeanor? A, dare I say it, hunger in his eyes?

Sure, up until now you've provide us with pithy insight, but be aware, I'm watching you. And your little clones too.
posted by quin at 3:14 PM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


Just don't feed him after midnight.
posted by FYKshun at 3:15 PM on October 17, 2006


I can't help but wonder if this is some poor attempt to get more users to Mac.

'See what happens on those nasty Windows operating systems? Sick as a dog they get. But OS X is A-OK.'
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 3:22 PM on October 17, 2006


Attention all Apple product owners: you aren't getting paid for your marketing efforts. Not a dime.

Smug superiority is its own reward.
posted by Bort at 3:24 PM on October 17, 2006


rxrfrx:

Try learning next time, it's much more satisfying than mindless conjecture.
posted by odinsdream at 3:25 PM on October 17, 2006


Attention all Apple product owners: you aren't getting paid for your marketing efforts. Not a dime.

I realize that. That's why I don't market for them.

[this is eponysterical]

LOL
posted by brundlefly at 3:29 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


rxrfrx: If you've put a virus on the iPod that will wipe the computer's hard drive, there isn't any operating system that will be "hardy" enough to resist this.
I believe you are mistaken. The virus in question is almost unbelievably crude, and it is very much because of the huge, glaring, obvious security mis-features of Windows that it's possible for it to exist at all. This thing doesn't use clever tricks to take advantage of some tiny, obscure "security hole." It takes advantage of the fact that Windows is designed like a castle -- with a drawbridge that's stuck open.

This virus works because Windows (95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, and XP) has an insane "feature" that causes code on some removable media types to automatically start - without any user intervention - once that media is detected. That code will execute with whatever permissions the currently-logged-in user has. And there are a thousand tiny inducements to encourage Windows users to set up all their user accounts as Administrator-class, so they mostly do. Heck, I do.

On the upside, though, if you've turned off Windows' stupid autorun feature, this can't do anything to your computer.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2006


I am nothing more than an undead astronaut that can be commanded to kill people with a machete.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:31 PM on October 17, 2006


rxrfrx: Try learning next time, it's much more satisfying than mindless conjecture.

So, are you seriously suggesting that he should have bought an iPod and two computers to figure this out?

As for the "poor form" bit, that's certainly not conjecture.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:33 PM on October 17, 2006


Less than 25 reports of the thing actually infecting anything, out of tens of millions of iPods sold (though probably more like a few hundred thousand since the specified date last month), is pretty insignificant. I'd say it's nice of Apple to spend a bit of time and energy addressing this tiny but potentially damaging problem, acknowledging the blame, and providing solutions to people who might have been affected..

Contrast that to something like Sony's rootkit fracas or the various lightspeed-propagating Windows worms.

"Attention all Apple product owners: you aren't getting paid for your marketing efforts. Not a dime."

Thanks for your concern! Attention all Windows users: Neither are you.

I do agree that a snide comment about Windows was poor form and unnecessary.

"If you leave the iPod plugged into a newish computer (Mac or PC) when rebooting the computer, the computer will probably try to boot from the iPod first, right?"

Agree with the others, the answer is no, including on PCs. You'd have to manually set the BIOS to boot from the iPod drive on a PC. I don't even remember if that's possible; the iPod would never be considered an A: or C: or even CD-ROM drive. Your BIOS would have to recognize and boot from a "network" drive to be able to do that, which I dimly recall can be done... but no idea how.

"If you've put a virus on the iPod that will wipe the computer's hard drive, there isn't any operating system that will be "hardy" enough to resist this."

Except of course any OS that doesn't have a Win32 kernel, on which the virus would be completely unable to run.

Which, just so you know, means every operating system out there other than Win95/98, WinME, WinNT/2000, and WinXP.

On preview: doh, WesternInfidels! :)

Now, someone could write a virus that would actually run within the iPod's internal OS, and that could be very dangerous indeed. It would also be really, really difficult.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:38 PM on October 17, 2006


There seems to be a lot of hanky-panky going on in the world of mp3 players - for instance, McDonalds gave away mp3 players with 10 songs and a pre-loaded trojan.
posted by lekvar at 3:47 PM on October 17, 2006


Police are looking for Jeff Goldblum.
posted by Joeforking at 3:53 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie : I am nothing more than an undead astronaut that can be commanded to kill people with a machete.

Again with your clever riddles and double-speak. Sure, you can sound all 'warm and fuzzy' here in the thread, you can use your sweet lulling voice to coax us into a false sense of security, but I strongly suspect that underneath your rotting exterior, lies something that, might just be dangerous.
posted by quin at 3:54 PM on October 17, 2006


Silly. Apple is trying to destroy all the Windows machines and . . . . TAKE OVER THE WORRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDD!

All your hard drives is belong to us.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:55 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I confess: I have fanboy tendencies. But I'm rolling my eyes at the Apple statement. This would have been a good time to roll out a straight-forward press release that didn't take a cheap shot at Microsoft (there will always be plenty of time for that later, after all).

I doubt anybody who bought one of these borked iPods is thinking, "WTF, Microsoft?" They're thinking, "WTF, Apple?"
posted by veggieboy at 4:04 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, though this is a bad thing for Apple, it's a little too close to the Zune launch for me to discount the idea of industrial espionage. That said, any Windows user who doesn't have a a decent free antivirus program (that, preferably, isn't a fat, annoying resource hog like Norton AV), is probably already so riddled with virii that RavMonE.exe couldn't find a seat.
posted by armoured-ant at 4:09 PM on October 17, 2006


SORRY I RAN OVER YOUR KID, BUT HE'S KIND OF DUMB LOL
posted by 2sheets at 4:10 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


> I strongly suspect that underneath your rotting exterior, lies something that, might just be dangerous.

We all remember that hideous thing that started logging on as quonsar after the original Q got banned. Let's not go through that again! My little brain-nub is just now starting to regenerate.
posted by jfuller at 4:14 PM on October 17, 2006


I'm sure that when you pop in an iPod on a mac for the first time they ask for the system password

Have you actually tried it? I'm willing to erase my ipod to test to be sure but this statement is silly, why would you need to allow system access to sync your ipod?
posted by MrLint at 4:16 PM on October 17, 2006


jfuller, you really shouldn't leave yourself open like that around here :)
posted by zoogleplex at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2006


"Have you actually tried it? I'm willing to erase my ipod to test to be sure but this statement is silly, why would you need to allow system access to sync your ipod?"

You don't. iTunes leaves a small bit running that listens for an iPod being plugged in, which starts the main app and syncs the iPod. There's no system access.

And as has been mentioned, this virus can't run in any way on OS X or the internal OS of the iPod. It's a Win32 virus, it needs a Win32 OS to even start itself up.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:20 PM on October 17, 2006


Its a good thing not many people use iPods. Or Windows.
posted by mazola at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2006


zoogleplex:

Yes I was being sarcastic.:) I wanted that person to prove their assertion:)
posted by MrLint at 4:33 PM on October 17, 2006


and i just said nice things about ipods
posted by caddis at 4:38 PM on October 17, 2006


Oh, it's ok. McDonald's did something silly too.

At least Apple put up a page with some information instead of sitting around whistling innocently.
posted by drstein at 4:58 PM on October 17, 2006


I'm sure that when you pop in an iPod on a mac for the first time they ask for the system password.

When you first plug an 5.5g iPod into a mac the first time, it asks if you want to "optimize your iPod" for Mac OS X. You are not asked for a system password.

Effectively, if you saw yes, it erases the Fat32 partition and formats the iPod as HFS+.

Then it starts to copy music from your library to the iPod.
posted by birdherder at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2006


Sorry MrLint! Missed your tags. ;)
posted by zoogleplex at 5:03 PM on October 17, 2006


ERASES FAT32! Jesus, that is quite some virus, but some smart lawyer will take Apple to the cleaners for it.
posted by caddis at 5:04 PM on October 17, 2006


"Effectively, if you say yes, it erases the Fat32 partition and formats the iPod as HFS+."

Which, happily, would delete any pesky Win viruses (including boot-sector) accidentally copied there by the computer that did the FAT32 format... and of course, anything else on the disk.

If you're only using a Mac for your iTunes, this is a good thing to do. If you are using it on more than one computer, of which one or more might be PCs, you wouldn't want to do this, as it would render your iPod unreadable by Windows (without a fancy 3rd-party utility).

caddis: I think I can see your tags just fine, heh
posted by zoogleplex at 5:10 PM on October 17, 2006


If only you had listened to me.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:14 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


They can't have seriously meant for that dig at Windows to be published. That must have been a joke that somehow got through.

I bet somebody loses a large section of their ass over that statement getting published.
posted by willnot at 5:17 PM on October 17, 2006


I am nothing more than an undead astronaut that can be commanded to kill people with a machete.

Specific people, or just whatever random people you come across? I mean, if it's the former, you'd probably make a killing with the right outfit.
posted by eriko at 5:21 PM on October 17, 2006


They can't have seriously meant for that dig at Windows to be published.

I think they did. There've been a few instances of controversial jokey language appearing in official Apple documents in the last couple of years, not that I can remember any right now. They usualy get removed after a few days, though.
posted by cillit bang at 5:30 PM on October 17, 2006


"Attention all Apple product owners: you aren't getting paid for your marketing efforts. Not a dime."

Thanks for your concern! Attention all Windows users: Neither are you.


I run Linux. Even the developers aren't getting paid.

and I can sync my iPod on it, no foolin'!
posted by davejay at 5:51 PM on October 17, 2006


ERASES FAT32! Jesus, that is quite some virus, but some smart lawyer will take Apple to the cleaners for it.

Sorry if I confused you caddis, when one first plugs a new iPod into a Mac, iTunes asks if you'd like to optimize for Mac OS X. iTunes formats the iPod to HFS+ if you want, otherwise it leaves it with FAT32.

So a smart lawyer wouldn't take the case and would look for other ways to take Apple to the cleaners.
posted by birdherder at 6:14 PM on October 17, 2006


So, are you seriously suggesting that he should have bought an iPod and two computers to figure this out?

As for the "poor form" bit, that's certainly not conjecture.


No, of course not - that would be absurd. What I was suggesting was that he/she learn even the slightest things about computers in general before discussing them. Specifically, if you're going to wildly spout off about the dangers of booting a computer while an iPod is attached, you should learn about how computers boot - and whether what you're talking about is even realistic.

In this case, it is most definitely not realistic. People often go to great pains to make computers boot of removeable media - it isn't a trivial process. I'm not suggesting he/she learn about low-level BIOS calls and procedures - just the rudimentary basics of how a computer boots.

If he/she isn't interested in learning about this - he/she should shut the fuck up when the subject comes up.
posted by odinsdream at 6:37 PM on October 17, 2006


I like Apple reasonably well, and I own a Mac. (running Windows at this exact moment, but I own one. :)

That said, this statement is incredibly lame. As others have commented... it's blaming the victim.

If Apple was speaking from a position of true strength, it'd be very slightly less horrid. But they're not. OS X is not particularly secure by design. It's better than Windows, but it's not that much better. I've seen bad security holes in earlier versions, and I'm just a sysadmin. They're still lugging around a lot of ancient code from the NeXT days, I guaran-damn-TEE you that code isn't well-written. When 'nidump' in 10.2 would let anyone, even the 'nobody' user, dump all the password hashes on the system.... you know the security design has big, big problems.

Even now, with new code, they appear to make many design decisions in much the same way that Microsoft once did... the marketers choose features, not the engineers. That leads to woefully bad, insecure implementations, like the recent "automatically install any widget you click on" thing. Any organization that could approve that feature *has* to be totally broken from a security standpoint. (aka: "wtf were they THINKING?")

They will someday pay big for these catty, useless comments. They're not invulnerable. Never stow thrones in a grass house...

On preview: Odin, I'm not sure you know what you're talking about either. Most modern BIOSes will happily (and trivially) boot from USB. You usually have to turn that feature on, but not always. It is entirely likely that a bootable, virused iPod would wipe at least some computers.

Wiping ANY computers is an unacceptable outcome.
posted by Malor at 7:09 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Specifically, if you're going to wildly spout off about the dangers of booting a computer while an iPod is attached, you should learn about how computers boot - and whether what you're talking about is even realistic.

First, there's nothing unrealistic about expecting that a computer may boot from removable media - it's not unheard of for PCs to do that by default. If I stick a Knoppix CD in the average PC and reboot, voila, I'm running Knoppix. No need to know anything about low-level BIOS calls or procedures. USB, a little harder I suppose, but not that much, on Windows or a Mac.

Second, here's what you responded to:
"If you leave the iPod plugged into a newish computer (Mac or PC) when rebooting the computer, the computer will probably try to boot from the iPod first, right?"
If that's "wildly spout[ing] off", I can only say that the standards for wildly spouting off have been lowered quite a bit.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:18 PM on October 17, 2006


Like you say - it has to be enabled in the BIOS. Not exactly a vulnerability.
posted by odinsdream at 7:19 PM on October 17, 2006


Ahem. Modern PC's aren't secure against a device plugging in via USB, period. This includes Macs. There's *so* much attack surface available over USB.

Here, I'll go flip some random bits in HFS+; lets see if Apple notices. (They almost certainly will -- almost all FS drivers collapse when fuzzed.)

And I'm not even talking about design bugs, like intentional code execution off the mounted file system or Firewire's neat trick of exposing full DMA to the underlying OS by design.
posted by effugas at 7:21 PM on October 17, 2006


Blazecock Pileon: "Just one more reason to move to a Mac."

Right! Shipping a product that contains a virus makes me want their business. If I purchased a device, software package, or bit of hardware that included a virus, that would likely be the last time I did business with that company. It isn't that ridiculous to expect that a company like Apple could manage to ship hardware sans virus, is it?

Look, I like my iPod, and I like my (non-Mac) computers. They do what I want them to. One plays music, the other two allow me to do work. (I don't make picture albums or cut many home movies, so guess I'm not in the market for a Mac. According to their commercials, that's all they are good for - that and pushing my pseudo-slacker hipster angst. I use my computers to do work, like the bespectacled guy in the brown suit. Typing papers and stuff. It isn't glamorous but it gets me paid.)

The only time I get seriously annoyed by the idiotic Mac vs. Windows hoo-ha is when the topic of viruses comes up. This little incident proves my point: The folks drinking the Apple "we are invulnerable" kool-aid are by and large ignorant of the real risks of running a system without concern for viruses. Yes, there are no current threats to the Mac OS. This does not mean that there are NO threats nor that there will NEVER be threats. It just means that the Apple crowd are setting themselves up for a big problem. We end up with users who think so little about the issue that they SHIP HARDWARE WITH A VIRUS, because some employee or other never thought to have any kind of virus scanner on the machine they use to do the initial set-up of their hardware.

I may have to be more careful about avoiding risks on my Windows system, but that also means I think about the risks. Training people from the get-go that it is safe to just click on anything is a bad idea, no matter what platform you are running.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2006


STFU. You know why everybody hates Apple users? Its a great product, no doubt; but at the end of the day, its still just a product. You aren't a superior person for owning one, and neither is the Hummer owner that many Apple owners sneer at. STFU, all of you.
posted by ChasFile


What the hell are you talking about? The statement was from apple, not any users.

Not everyone hates apple users, and few with your level of intensity. Let me apologize for the mac fan who beat beat you up, stole your lunch money, and fucked your girlfriend.

A mac hater anon group might be in order. Good luck.

The folks drinking the Apple "we are invulnerable" kool-aid are by and large ignorant of the real risks of running a system without concern for viruses. Yes, there are no current threats to the Mac OS.

Read those two sentences back to back very slowly. Who's ignorant?

I use my computers to do work, like the bespectacled guy in the brown suit. Typing papers and stuff. It isn't glamorous but it gets me paid.)

You must have missed the latest round of mac commercials. Regardless, you could actually use a typewriter for your job. Imagine how cool you'd be then.
posted by justgary at 8:05 PM on October 17, 2006


lol! Apple ruls micro$$$oft blows!!!111 or lol! Microsoft is totally awesome, dude! Rad!

Yes yes, can we all quit being fanboy's for three freaking seconds and just admit that Apple could've gone without the stupid comment about Windows?
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 8:29 PM on October 17, 2006


Oh noes, my IpOd is diseased! Must throw it on the ground, stomp on it and rush out to buy a Zune! Wait, do Zunes work with Macs or iTunes or mp3s? No, well fuck that noise then.

I'll take a virus ridden iPod (which won't do anything to my Mac anyway) over a crappily made and supported Zune anyday anyway. Playsforsure, indeed.
posted by fenriq at 8:42 PM on October 17, 2006


odin: not always. I have seen BIOSes that enable USB booting by default. I think my Athlon board might do that, although I can't easily look right now.

But even if your BIOS defaults to off, what if you turn it on for some other device, and forget? It's easy to do. You unplugged the drive, so the computer boots normally. You're now vulnerable, but it's not obvious. And you could have changed the setting months or years before plugging in the iPod.

Overall, it's not extreme risk. But your replies were ridiculously over the top and insulting. You went on at some length attacking rxrfrx, claiming he/she knew absolutely nothing about computers and was spouting nonsense. But he/she was perfectly correct that it could be a wipe-the-drive security threat. It was even phrased as a question, not a statement, and you STILL went off sideways.

Considering your level of bombast, I think you owe him/her an apology.
posted by Malor at 8:44 PM on October 17, 2006


Yes yes, can we all quit being fanboy's for three freaking seconds and just admit that Apple could've gone without the stupid comment about Windows?

Yeah it was totally wrong but damn it was funny: "Dude, we're so totally sorry your that your OS is so weak that we managed to accidently put a virus on it. You should get that taken care. Rock on, dude!"

Besides the whole thing reads like someone was having a bit of fun.

And it's amusing that so many people are faulting the post for pointing out how easy it easy to catch a virus on Windows. Lord knows why people would run a business, let alone personal stuff on machine that messed up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 PM on October 17, 2006


justgary writes "Regardless, you could actually use a typewriter for your job. Imagine how cool you'd be then."

Yes, and you could use film prints, paper and rubber cement to make a picture book, or a pile of records and a needle to listen to music. Then you'd be even more painfully retro-hip. What's your argument? Mine was simply a comment on how annoying I find the commercials to be. Hi, I'm a Mac, I am marginally better at some niche functions than other PCs (if you ignore the vast array of 3rd party software for either platform that makes most of these comparisons moot to begin with).

justgary writes "Read those two sentences back to back very slowly. Who's ignorant?"

Did I say ignorant? No. I will re-state it, using smaller words: "Not now" is not the same as "not ever".

The Firefox fans can tell you the same thing. "Not as vulnerable as IE" didn't turn out to mean "invulnerable", did it? The problems caused have not been as bad, but they are security risks nonetheless. Assuming you are safe because you run a Mac just means you are currently a smaller target - it doesn't mean no one is aiming at you. Learning to be careful might be a pain in the ass, but it is never a bad idea. Taking care to install an antivirus program would have prevented any iPods from shipping with a virus. The fact that nobody thought to install such a program on a corporate production machine says much about the false sense of security Apple is promoting.

Mac users are similar to folks living in a small town who don't lock their doors because crime is low. That is a nice thing for most days, but is cold comfort the day you come home to find your house ransacked. Kindly re-read this statement from Malor, slowly: "OS X is not particularly secure by design. It's better than Windows, but it's not that much better. I've seen bad security holes in earlier versions, and I'm just a sysadmin. They're still lugging around a lot of ancient code from the NeXT days, I guaran-damn-TEE you that code isn't well-written."

Who's ignorant? Wrong question. Who's blissfully unaware? You. Windows has its faults - no one will argue against that fact - but building a false sense of user security is not one of them. I highly doubt that any machine in use in production or manufacturing of hardware at Microsoft runs without antivirus. Doing so would be a stupid move - because anyone who works with computer security can tell you, any system is only as sound as its user base, and NO system is bulletproof.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:47 PM on October 17, 2006


I'm a huge fan of Macs, but being "upset at windows for not being more hardy" is malarky; I'm sure that when you pop in an iPod on a mac for the first time they ask for the system password, at which point a clever virus would have free run of your OS X system.

Exactly, there's no such thing as being "hardy against viruses". the comment was idiotic, it was entirely their fault.

That said, there are certainly more viruses for windows then for OSX, but that's because there are more windows machines.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 PM on October 17, 2006


Agree with the others, the answer is no, including on PCs. You'd have to manually set the BIOS to boot from the iPod drive on a PC. I don't even remember if that's possible; the iPod would never be considered an A: or C: or even CD-ROM drive. Your BIOS would have to recognize and boot from a "network" drive to be able to do that, which I dimly recall can be done... but no idea how.

You're wrong, many PC bioses can recognize and boot from USB Mass Storage drives. Thanks for talking out your ass, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2006


EVERYTHING SUCKS ONCE AND AWHILE, NOTHING IS GOOD 100% OF THE TIME.

THANK YOU FOR PLAYING, FANBOYS. GO HOME AND SHUT UP FOREVER THANKS.

posted by phylum sinter at 10:00 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


"That said, there are certainly more viruses for windows then for OSX, but that's because there are more windows machines"

While factually correct, that's still complete bullshit. Just because there are fewer Macs being used every day most certainly is not the reason for the huge difference in virus numbers. In fact, one would suspect that with the excellent track record the Mac has had against viruses that virus writers would be scrambling all over themselves to be the one to write the "first killer Mac OS X virus." But it hasn't happened yet. There have been a few piddly "proof of concept" trojans that have amounted to diddly squat, and that's about it.

There are far far more Apache web servers than Windows web servers, but the big name viruses were the ones affecting the minority.
posted by drstein at 12:11 AM on October 18, 2006


Two legs bad, one leg good.
posted by brundlefly at 1:39 AM on October 18, 2006


Err... that would be FOUR legs. Long day.
posted by brundlefly at 1:42 AM on October 18, 2006


drstein--

Well, actually the reason there aren't many OSX viruses is that there aren't many viruses, period. It's 2006; you're way more likely to get Spyware from an American company than a keylogger from Uzbekistan.

Hell, Electronic Arts is now demanding the right to run spyware on your system for the privilege of playing their game.

Servers really do have a different threat portfolio than clients, by the way. The Witty worm attacked code that was listening on tens of thousands (if that) machines worldwide. IIS may not have been in the majority, but it was out there, and had exploitable conditions that worked for extended periods of time. You don't have to be in the majority to get exploited -- you just need to be always listening, and hosting useful data. IIS qualified.

Regarding piddly "proof of concepts" against Mac -- there was this great flaw where Apple would load an arbitrary OS off the network if a certain DHCP flag was set. "It's not a bug, it's a feature -- makes it real easy to reimage a lab!" Well, yes.
posted by effugas at 1:52 AM on October 18, 2006


delmoi says: Exactly, there's no such thing as being "hardy against viruses".

Actually, yes there is. OpenBSD would be extremely hard to exploit in this way. It's tough remotely, it's tough locally, and it won't even let root do some things after boot completes. Even if you DID run malicious code, the damage it could do would be limited. As long as you didn't run the hostile code as root, you could almost certainly recover an OpenBSD installation. It would be extremely difficult to crack an OpenBSD box in such a way that you didn't know you'd been cracked... the most dangerous of all possible compromises.

You could still lose your files, but you can lose your files anyway... hard drives fail, after all. That's why you have backups.

Secure operating systems CAN be done, with the right focus. But it's hard, slow work, and OpenBSD is far behind most other OSes in terms of features. It is probably, however, the only OS on the market that's actually trustworthy.

The idea of a fuzz attack against the filesystem code was an interesting one, though. Dunno if OpenBSD has any defense against that.
posted by Malor at 2:50 AM on October 18, 2006


FWIW - the Athlon 64 motherboard I set up a couple of months ago had a USB boot option enabled by default, and in boot position #1. Followed by CDROM and Master IDE/SATA0.

I thought this was odd and unnecessary, but I guess it's the way things are going... So yeah, I guess if the iPod had a bootable filesystem with a natively executable app that was designed to nuke partitions on internal drives, then that might work. But that's pretty unlikely and would step from being negligent on the part of the hardware maker to actually having to be malicious I'd say - that sort of thing would be pretty hard to get on there covertly.

The Apply comment is very cocky - but the Autorun feature and Window's default lack of anything approaching userlevel security does pretty much leave the door open for this sort of thing.
posted by sycophant at 2:52 AM on October 18, 2006


Apple comment - why don't I read what I write?
posted by sycophant at 2:53 AM on October 18, 2006


rxrfrx:

Try learning next time,


Wow, you really schooled me! Shows me right for phrasing something as a question and adding ", right?" at the end! Next time I'll just shut my damn mouth when I'm not sure about something!
posted by rxrfrx at 3:50 AM on October 18, 2006



Two legs bad, one leg good.


The Apple monoPod, shipping now.

Incidentally, notwithstanding how unwise it was of Apple to blame Microsoft for a failure to scan for viruses on a product which they have long made and marketed as compatible with Windows, any chance we could rummage just a little bit deeper into the big bag of metaphors before coming up with women being raped? It's viscerally satisfying, I realise, but just a touch Godwintastic.
posted by tannhauser at 3:56 AM on October 18, 2006


Kindly re-read this statement from Malor, slowly: "OS X is not particularly secure by design. It's better than Windows, but it's not that much better.

And yet OS X has zero viruses, while Windows continues to be a breeding ground for them. If that's "not that much better", well, I'll still take it.

No, I don't think the Mac is invunerable. Yes, I DO think it's superior (i.e. a better tool), despite some faults.

And not bit of yelling, whining and complaining about totally wrong (but funny!) comment in a support document will change the fact that Windows, currently, is currently supporting the anti-virus market. Which is damn shitty.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:05 AM on October 18, 2006


> Err... that would be FOUR legs. Long day.

I like yours better.
posted by jfuller at 4:17 AM on October 18, 2006


As others have commented... it's blaming the victim

I don't understand -- isn't Apple the vicitm? They (or a third party that works for them) bought some Windows computers, and in the course of normal operations, the computers contracted a virus due to a huge security hole in the Windows software that in turn infected some of Apple's products. No doubt the Apple folks are used to using Apple computers, where such a virus would never work, since OSX doesn't have such a big, stupid security hole, and thus, they can't be expected to anticipate every stupid virus that can infect Windows.
So I don't think this is "poor form" at all: "As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it."

They're upset because they can't even do simple software installation with software made by the largest, most well-funded software company on the planet because of how badly the softwar eis written, but they're (in thier own words) even more upset with themselves for not catching the virus before they iPods shipped. That's a pretty reasonable reaction -- every time my PC (which has good antivirus sooftware on it) catches some stupid virus, I rightfully get irritated with it. Why isn't Apple allowed to do the same?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:53 AM on October 18, 2006


I don't understand -- isn't Apple the victim?

No. For whatever reason, they sold a defective product that can cause harm to the people who buy it. It is their job, as the seller of that product, to ensure that it's not defective. If they're not capable of selling products for Windows users that don't infect those users' computers, they have no one to blame but themselves.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:22 AM on October 18, 2006


FWIW - the Athlon 64 motherboard I set up a couple of months ago had a USB boot option enabled by default, and in boot position #1. Followed by CDROM and Master IDE/SATA0.

That's atrocious. On a Mac, you'd have to manually and specifically select the iPod.
posted by cillit bang at 6:25 AM on October 18, 2006


As you might imagine, I am upset at the haddock filet for being so tasty, but even more upset at myself for throwing it into a pan of hot oil.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:44 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Good freakin' lord. The comments on this thread have gone on longer and are more contentious than the latest Cato Institute blablabla FPP. What's wrong with you? How can the word "fuck" be used so many times arguing about whether Windows or Mac blows bigger?

You are all Nazis. There. Finished.
posted by noble_rot at 6:58 AM on October 18, 2006


Blazecock Pileon: "Just one more reason to move to a Mac."


"Post Different"
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:02 AM on October 18, 2006


I don't understand -- isn't Apple the vicitm? They (or a third party that works for them) bought some Windows computers, and in the course of normal operations, the computers contracted a virus due to a huge security hole in the Windows software that in turn infected some of Apple's products.

I don't understand either. I use Windows for my work, both desktops and servers and I've managed to never get a virus, rather easily. Why can't Apple?
posted by juiceCake at 7:16 AM on October 18, 2006


Too much porn surfing?
posted by tannhauser at 8:05 AM on October 18, 2006


"You're wrong, many PC bioses can recognize and boot from USB Mass Storage drives."

It's been so long since I bought a PC, over four years, that I was not aware of this. The PC that I bought 4 years ago can't do this, I checked last night out of curiosity.

Having that active by default would seem to be a rather grave security risk these days, since you can put an entire OS on a USB drive easily... if I ever buy another PC I'll make sure I get in there and turn that one off!

"Thanks for talking out your ass, though."

And thank you for being so... charming.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:19 PM on October 18, 2006


Having that active by default would seem to be a rather grave security risk these days, since you can put an entire OS on a USB drive easily... if I ever buy another PC I'll make sure I get in there and turn that one off!

It probably varies per bias/motherboard. I had to enable it to boot from an external USB device (a DVDROM.)
posted by juiceCake at 11:07 AM on October 21, 2006


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