trojan problem

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Fri Jan 27 15:43:39 UTC 2006

On 1/27/06, Anders Karlsson <trudheim at> wrote:
> On 1/27/06, albi <albi at> wrote:
> > On Fri, Jan 27, 2006 at 11:31:00AM +0000, Anders Karlsson wrote:
> >
> > > Linux is not invulnerable to virii, and there are hundreds of virii
> > > for Linux,
> > > much larger install base, and usually less cluefull users, virii
> The fundamental design-flaws aside, when an OS has 80-90% market
> penetration, that is the OS that will be targeted the most by virii
> authors.

This isn't why I'm responding to your e-mail but...

I've always been puzzled by that one. In the early days of
Macintosh[1] (late 1980s) there was a thriving virus scene on the
System (its operating system was called System at the time... later
renamed to Mac OS). The DOS virus scene was even worse than on Mac
System, but, then again, DOS was even more of a security nightmare.

[1]when Macintosh had roughly the same market share as it does now
3-6% depending on who you listen to

Then, Apple got wise and with each operating system update or upgrade
the viruses were quickly inactivated (or, because they relied on a bug
in the code, stopped working). It didn't take long for viruses to
virtually disappear from the Mac OS (and this was pre-Unix). Even with
Mac OS 9 viruses were virtually (if not completely) unknown. Since
Apple's switch to Unix (Mac OS X has _NO_ code in common with Mac OS)
there have been NO viruses written for Mac OS X (AFAIK).

This is where the puzzle comes in... I would not at all be surprised
if the current Mac OS X installed user base is larger than the
DOS/pre-Windows 3.1 user base in the late 80s and yet we still see no
viruses for Mac OS X!!!

This is not conclusive proof that *nix is virus proof in its design,
but, it is worth investigating.

The lack of viruses for Mac System in the 80s could have also been
because there were fewer "script kiddies" or malicious hackers around
writing for 680x0 and Mac System. Using the tools available in the
late 80s, it was much harder to write for GUI (Mac System) than it was
for DOS. So, if you had the skills to put together a GUI app you'd
also be more likely to be earning an income (but, on average, you also
were more likely to have more skill than a CLUI programmer) and you
wouldn't have time for viruses anyway (perhaps as proof of concept

Plus, Mac users did not accept poorly designed GUI apps so perhaps
that was a barrier to virus writers? (all of this conjecture))

> work in this instance. If it were Linux with 85% market penetration,
> we'd all see a *lot* more virii for Linux.

A little bit of semantics for ya (and a pet peeve of mine ;-)...

Viruses vs. Viri vs. Virii:

The Cole's Notes version...

Viri is the plural of vir, or man (in Latin).

Virii = not a (recognised) word.

In English, if the word is of Latin origin and still possesses the
original meaning, we pluralise it using Latin grammatical rules (forum
- fora). If it sounds Latin or has lost its original meaning we use
conventional English grammar rules (now, where biological taxonomy
fits in here I'm not entirely sure ;-P}.

Virus does not mean the same thing as it did in Latin and thus is
pluralised using conventional (s or es) grammatical rules. In Latin
virus was never pluralised anyway since it meant 'poisonous' or
something to that effect.

FYI results from for:

viruses 97,700,000
viri 1,210,000
virii 558,000
"computer viruses" 3,510,000
"computer virus" 4,100,000
"computer viri" 2,090
"computer virii" 810

The longer explanations...

Have a good one and a virus free season (both biological and computer)!

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