7

I've managed to get my hands on a really old mac computer that was probably built in the late 90's. The operating system was last updated in 2001 to 10.1.4. The problem is that I'm not sure if it's okay to surf the Internet on this machine. There is no anti-virus security for it; and it's not like I can install Norton on it because the computer would be unable to run it since it only has half a gigabyte of RAM. I would think it would at least okay to browse on Google and access most of the pages that Google presents.

Would it be relatively safe for me as long as I use common sense or is it unsafe. If not, is there an anti-virus software that is made for computers like this?

13
  • 2
    It would probably make sense to rephrase this question to be less Apple-specific. It’s a quite relevant and interesting subject with regard to old software in general. Oct 16 '20 at 7:31
  • 4
    Note that, nonwithstanding any possible security risks, your browsing experience on fairly modern web pages will be, say, a bit disappointing...
    – tofro
    Oct 16 '20 at 10:08
  • 3
    You will most likely find that anything https has expired certificates. Oct 16 '20 at 10:46
  • I have a VirtualBox running 10.11 (Snow Leopard), it gets errors when trying to access most HTTPS websites.
    – Barmar
    Oct 16 '20 at 15:22
  • 1
    @user3840170 I think the risk assessment is very specific to the hardware and OS.
    – Barmar
    Oct 16 '20 at 15:23
14

Risk assessment is, of course, subjective, but I wouldn't worry too much if you're behind a firewall, or a router with NAT and no ports forwarded to this Mac.

In that case, the only danger comes from actions originating at your machine, either done by you or the OS -- which is mostly software you download and run, websites you open, that sort of thing. And most of the malware out there today will not run on that Mac, anyway, either because it's not targeting PowerPC Macs, or because its targeting a browser much more capable than what you'll be able to run on that machine.

As an aside, a late-90s Mac running OS X isn't "really old" ;-)

10
  • 12
    "Ancient computer" with 'only' half a gigabyte of RAM. Does this really fit with retro computing? It's not that retro, but browsing without modern JavaScript enabled browser, what possible vector would there be for any remote exploit or virus attack?
    – GrantB
    Oct 16 '20 at 8:39
  • 2
    GrantB: Drive-by image decode/display exploits are a risk, especially when using browsers. This specific link describes one for Windows: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Metafile_vulnerability
    – knol
    Oct 16 '20 at 9:53
  • 3
    When I started dabbling in retrocomputing - around 2002 - the definition seemed to be "more than 10 years old". The time window seems to have lengthened a bit, but I'd say a 20 year old machine is retro enough. Otherwise, where would you draw the line? Regarding JavaScript: JS dates back to 1996, so there should be some level of JS support on a late 90s Mac. Oct 16 '20 at 9:56
  • 1
    My loose definition is "retrocomputers don't fit on a desk" :-) And yes, I used a desktop VAX in the 1980s, so don't take it too seriously. Oct 16 '20 at 12:18
  • 9
    By that standard, the z/OS mainframe at work is retro, and the Apple II is not, so I shan't :-) Oct 16 '20 at 12:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.