This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

October 7, 2010

Do Macintosh computers get viruses?

A computer virus is a little bit of code that, when downloaded onto your computer, does damage to the system. These pieces of code are written by the same type of person who throws water balloons off of bridges onto the cars on the freeway, or randomly poisons Halloween candy, or put poison in Tylenol.

The reason that PCs are more vulnerable to viruses than Macs is because of their different operation systems. An operating system (OS) is what drives a computer. On a PC, the operating system is DOS (which stands for Disc Operating System), and on a Mac it is Linux (which is a type of Unix system). On top of these operating systems is the part you see. On a PC, it is called "Windows" (an appropriate name), and on a Mac it is called OSX (not really an appropriate name).

The operating system of PCs, DOS, is vulnerable for several reasons. First of all, it was written in a big hurry by a sub-contractor of IBM way back in the seventies. Even though Microsoft, which still owns it, insists that DOS stands for "Disc Operating System", the original name was QDOS, which stood for "Quick and Dirty Operating System". It is a very easy operating system to mess with, but it can't be changed now because most computers to this day rely on it. And that's another reason why it's vulnerable, it is so common. Viruses are snippets of code written to "infect" DOS. People who write this stuff, like most people, are familiar with PCs.

A Macintosh computer is also vulnerable to viruses. There is nothing magical about Linux. It it just not as common as DOS, and it is more robust. So, it's just a question of probabilities. Personally, I use virus protection on my Mac. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

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