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?

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    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. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 7:31
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    Note that, nonwithstanding any possible security risks, your browsing experience on fairly modern web pages will be, say, a bit disappointing...
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 10:08
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    You will most likely find that anything https has expired certificates. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 10:46
  • I have a VirtualBox running 10.11 (Snow Leopard), it gets errors when trying to access most HTTPS websites.
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 15:22
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    @user3840170 I think the risk assessment is very specific to the hardware and OS.
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


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" ;-)

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    "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
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 8:39
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    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
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 9:53
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    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. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 9:56
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    By that standard, the z/OS mainframe at work is retro, and the Apple II is not, so I shan't :-) Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 12:49
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    @WolfZwiener, don't worry. I remember discussions in the early 2000s on whether the Amiga was retro; and your questions applies equally to machines most people here would consider retro, like, say, a BeBox or a Sun 3/60. Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 9:12

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