Can PC viruses in a virtual machine adversely affect my Mac?

August 12, 2014
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I am a Mac user and am interested in adding Fusion so I can also work on a PC platform. My question is viruses. Would I be susceptible to PC viruses disabling my MAX?

  1. Jan F
    August 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Basically I agree with all the above answers but let me try to put it into a more streamlined comment:

    Anything your virtual Windows has access to can be infected by a virus or malware that compromised your virtual Windows installation.

    The good news is that most virus or malware you can potentially get on Windows are unlikely to harm your Mac. Even if they infect some files within OS X the code is probably not able to run/execute on OS X. Worst case scenario probably is that your Mac will crash, Windows become un-bootable, but your Mac will work just fine after a restart.

    The bad news is that even if it does no harm to your Mac the code will probably remain on your system even after deleting the virtual machine and removing Fusion.

    So a possible scenario would be that you got some malware on the virtual Windows installation, this malware will start infecting (nesting) itself in various files within OS X. Months later, after removing Windows, deleting Fusion you share one of those files via email or copy it to another Windows machine where it is able to execute and do harm to the system.

    Therefor you should definitely minimize the risk of a virus or malware by installing and regularly updating a decent anti-virus within your virtual Windows.

    * I do have to mention that there are virus and malware that not only nest within other files but actually replace parts of them, corrupt them. Such an infection could potentially damage your Mac if they reach some core system files of OS X, forcing you to re-install OS X. But given that this type of infection is already rare in Windows I guess it's almost negligible in this scenario.

  2. Jeff F
    August 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Hypervisor-specific vulnerabilities can exploit the host and the guest operating systems. This is just one example of how this could happen, but I mean, yea,. ultimately the code is still getting executed on the same physical CPU as everything else so it is definitely possible.

    Install a firewall and configure an anti-virus on both the client virtual machine and the host operating system. Keep these anti-viruses up to date, as well as the operating system and any additionally installed software.

    Yes, the threat is real however if you follow some very basic security precautions you should be ok.

  3. Kyem G
    August 12, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Well answering after a very long time...
    I guess the answer is no as even if you use a virtual machine, the PC (windows) virus comes with .exe extension which is not supported by Mac, so it won't affect your Mac in any case. Its from my own basic knowledge but please do wait for others to answer