Seriously, if a reporter asked you, "Hey, do you have herpes?" and you replied, "Nope, I've been tested, no herpes, never," and then they wrote an article with the headline, "Bob Smith: Mostly Herpes-Free," you would, no doubt, flip (assuming your name was Bob Smith). You'd probably sue, even. But we put up with this crap every day, mainly because it's nigh-impossible to prove the negative. We'd need to inspect every hard drive of every Mac owner in the world. So we settle with "mostly virus-free" even though, compared to Windows, we're Mother Theresa and they're Pamela Anderson.
Let me be clear: not having had a virus is NOT the same as being immune to viruses. I think part of the reason almost nobody has been willing to stand up on this crusade has been that we get shouted down with cries of, "Well, no OS is perfect; Mac OS X will get its virus!" And I have no doubt we will. But Windows gets a virus every freaking week, and we've never had ONE. I think that's also relevant. Much more so than "Well, someday you won't be so perfect!" (Again, imagine you're about to share a fork with someone who you find out has rabies, scabies, rashes, a cold, the flu, lice, and scurvy, and that person says, "Well, everybody is susceptible to the same diseases." Yes, true, however, you'd still probably prefer to share with someone healthy at this moment.)
I'll admit, this crusade didn't start with me. It started on MacSlash where the news editor has TIRELESSLY pointed out every time some journalist or company implies that we're infectious.
And, I'll admit, others have come up with the idea of offering a bounty for Mac OS X viruses before, but I think those plans failed due to the way the challenge was structured. I don't want to incite someone to create the first Mac OS X virus.
So, here's my plan. I'm not putting it into effect yet, but I'm soliciting comments, and if nobody can prove it's a bone-headed idea, I'll go ahead with it.
I'm going to offer a bounty of $500 to the first person who can prove that a Mac running Mac OS X (version 10.0 or greater, and patched to the latest security level available at the time from Apple) was accidentally and detrimentally infected with a virus that exploited a flaw in the base Mac OS X installation (not, say, Microsoft Word) before September 20, 2005. The definition of "virus" will for this contest will be either a virus or worm as described by the wikipedia. The challenge ends at 23:59:00, October 16, 2005 (which happens to also be my birthday, and by the way I have a thing for nice shirts).
I will only offer this bounty once, and as you can see, the deadline for the viruses to have done their dirty work is in the past. So, if you're planning to write a new virus just to win the challenge, well... that won't work unless you also make a time machine. (Which, frankly, I'd be willing to fund for $500.) This is a research project, not a programming project: find one of us who has been infected at some time, and tell the world about it.
And, if you can't, then we should declare ourselves "virus-free," and write letters-to-the-editor anytime someone compares us with Christina Aguilera. Because we don't roll that way.
Labels: mac community