OS X, Security, and Symantec

  • Posted: 02 September 2001 01:30 PM

    Ok, so this guy, Robert Franklin, gets up and says OS X is the security equivalent of Swiss cheese.

    Ok, he didn’t exactly say those words, but if you read the article where he talks about how vulnerable UNIX, hence OS X is then you’d think he was talking about NT or scandanavian dairy products. Here’s the article:

    http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0108/06.hacker.shtml
    Yeah, I know UNIX, hence OS X, can get hacked and viruses, but my take is that, unless you are you don’t care or are ignorant of the consequences of running OS X as root or your initial admin ID, and you are silly enough to have no password or an easily cracked password, then UNIX, hence OS X is pert near as secure as you can get and be online. The most damage a virus can do is mess up you regular login, which is a pain but not necessarily devestating. Hackers will run into the same road block and limitations. I’m not saying UNIX, hence OS X can’t be hacked, but it is nowhere near as bad as this guy, Franklin, implies. That’s my take anyway.

    So, is this guy, Franklin, using scare tactics to drum up OS X business, or do you believe he has a valid point and the danger of digital infection and hacker violation is more likely in UNIX, hence OS X?

    As a side note, I also believe that the majority of the virus problems Mac currently enjoy is due to the increase use of MS products. How bout you?

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: VSeward on 2001-08-07 16:25 ]</font>

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  • Posted: 07 August 2001 02:08 PM #1

    Saw the article, and your reply.  (even before you mentioned it)  The guy from Semantec is trying to take advantage of people’s limited knowledge and uncertainty of the new Mac OS X system to sell product.  In what I have come to expect as normal “journalism” at MacCentral, that article is yet another attempt to pass off a product marketing scam as journalism.

    Clearly they never mention the firewall that is built-in to every release of Mac OS X?  They don’t mention that the only reason you would need a firewall is if you enable services?  No, none of that.  But the regular guy on the street doesn’t know this.  But then again, the regular guy on the street doesn’t read MacCentral religiously.

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  • Posted: 07 August 2001 05:32 PM #2

    I have to agree with Retro on this one, this guy is using a scare tactic to sell his snakeoil. I have pretty much given up on Maccentral since Macworld took over. It seems only thing they right about is whoever is paying their bills today. I just hope the average consumer doesn’t read this and say oh god this thing is totally insecure and either stay away or spend a fortune on stuff they don’t need. Why spend $100 bucks on Symantec’s firewall when you can setup the internal firewall for free or get Brickhouse for like $10 and do it the easy way?

         
  • Posted: 07 August 2001 07:29 PM #3

    What dcantrel said.

    Imagine being a sales guy at a store, oh, say Micro Center. And you have people running up to you who use nothing but OS 9 and they area asking you to which firewall app do they need.

    Micro Center may fire me, but I tell them to turn around go back to their home and surf their heinies off, because… oh, hell, you know why.

    As for OS X. I have a really hard time selling a customer on Symantec when I’m running Brickhouse on my box.

    Now, however, if they just walk over there, pick it up and buy it, I have nothing to do with it. But if they ask my opinion…

    Let’s just say that I"m glad I have my day job, yes sirree!

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  • Posted: 08 August 2001 01:47 AM #4

    Talking about GUI software for OS X like Firewalk X and Brickhouse, which one do you prefer, think is better, please tell why? I’ve tried both and they do about the same. But if anyone has a specific reason why to choose one over the other I’d be interested to know.

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  • Posted: 08 August 2001 07:56 AM #5

    On 2001-08-07 17:08, Retro wrote:

    Clearly they never mention the firewall that is built-in to every release of Mac OS X?  They don’t mention that the only reason you would need a firewall is if you enable services?  No, none of that.  But the regular guy on the street doesn’t know this.  But then again, the regular guy on the street doesn’t read MacCentral religiously.

    Yeah, I forgot to mention that one too. I should also be mentioned that, if you have broadband access and multiple Macs (or a combination of Macs and that other stuff. We won’t hold it against you.), a good option is to buy a personal router. These little jewels have a good bit of basic firewall software built right in and also sport GUI interfaces to help ease the pain of configuring them. If you can setup a VCR then you should be able to handle one of these guys. Unfortunately, Airport is not as robust in this area as it should be. (Well, the last time I played with Airport it wasn’t, there could be updates to fix it up by now.) Also, if you have an old Mac sitting around and are modem connected you could use it to act as a firewall using one of several software packages. I use IPNetRouter, which isn’t firewall software per se, but allows you to tweak the interface so that you can present a formidable front to the Internet. Unfortunately, IPNetRouter does not support OS X yet, but your old Mac prolly can’t anyway.

    As I said, I don’t buy much of what this guy says,...EXCEPT for the fact that MS apps will probably forever be subceptible to viruses, even in OS X.
    This means that Symantec will prolly stay in business. Go figure.

     

     

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  • Posted: 08 August 2001 10:44 AM #6

    This is an interesting discussion…

    I *am* using Norton Personal Firewall, but I had it for OS 9, and the OS X update was free.  One thing that some people don’t realize is that you need to have a separate firewall for your Classic environment if you run that, and also a separate firewall for something like Virtual PC if you run that.  With that said, for those that run Classic a lot, NPF is probably a good solution.

    I have used BrickHouse, but not Firewalk X, and found it to be very usable.  The interface is a bit more confusing than NPF, and for those novice users, NPF might be a less intimidating product.  I know that is a lame excuse, but there are a lot of products out there that simply make things easier to do, and there are a host of users that like that kind of convenience. 

    If you know what you are doing, or don’t mind taking the time to learn, BrickHouse (and probably Firewalk X) are good products.  For those that go by the “time and simplicity is money” way of thinking, installing Norton Personal Firewall and never having to worry about it again might also be worth it to them.

    The moral of the story is USE SOMETHING.  I never realized how much “weird” network activity there was until the last few days with this Code Red thing, but my firewall has been getting hammered almost non-stop for the last five days.  I know, I know…it can’t really have an impact on Mac OS X, but it is a good demonstration of how people can try to pry into your machine.

    So there.

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  • Posted: 08 August 2001 12:35 PM #7

    On 2001-08-08 13:44, Kyle wrote:
    The moral of the story is USE SOMETHING.  I never realized how much “weird” network activity there was until the last few days with this Code Red thing, but my firewall has been getting hammered almost non-stop for the last five days.  I know, I know…it can’t really have an impact on Mac OS X, but it is a good demonstration of how people can try to pry into your machine.

    Great point.  I too have been receiving connection attempts from Code Red II.  It’s ok since it can’t hurt my Mac, but it sure makes me glad I have a Mac, and made me reconsider the amount of attention I should give to keeping my computer and network secure.

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-08-08 15:37 ]</font>

         
  • Posted: 08 August 2001 04:39 PM #8

    One other thing I forgot to mention is that the Linksys Cable/DSL Router/modems are very nice personal routers that provide built in firewall software. While I don’t have this particular piece of hardware I do use Linksys hubs and have had zero problems with them. Also, friends do use the router/modem and think they are the best things since sliced bread.

    Linksys offers vague Mac support, which is a problem, but most should be able to figure out what to do by reading the PC instructions, which are similar. The BEFSR11 and BEFSR41 (1 port, 4 port) router/modems I recommend. Also go check out their online docs about setup and configuration.

    There are other hardwire router/modems, the Linksys should give you an idea, at least, in what to look for.

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  • Posted: 14 August 2001 03:36 PM #9

    On 2001-08-08 13:44, Kyle wrote:

    I *am* using Norton Personal Firewall, but I had it for OS 9, and the OS X update was free.  One thing that some people don’t realize is that you need to have a separate firewall for your Classic environment if you run that, and also a separate firewall for something like Virtual PC if you run that. 

    To anyone out there who has Personal Firewall:  How often are hack attempts made on your computer?  I’d imagine crackers would try to break into Windoze computers first since Macs are pretty secure, but do they try anyway?  Can they do any damage if they break in?  Has Mac user (OS 9 or X) had their computer hacked while online?

    Peace in.
        John

     

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    Posted: 02 September 2001 01:30 PM #10

    Avoid anything with the word “Symantec” written anywhere on it.

    Their products suck.

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