A frequent debate topic between Mac and Windows fans is Apple's susceptibility to viruses and other malware. Some say Mac is an intrinsically safer platform, which is the reason given as to why Macs are not nearly as virus-prone as Windows ones. Others contend that, with their smaller market share, Macs are simply not a target worth hacking.
Now, a new fake anti-virus software is making more Mac owners virus-aware. According to news reports, AppleCare has indicated that calls related to this malicious app -- called MAC Defender, MacSecurity, or Mac Protector -- are up dramatically.
'SEO Poisoning Attacks'
A memo that has surfaced on the Web, reportedly an internal communication to Apple support staff, instructs how to handle such calls.
Key points in the memo include "do not confirm or deny that any such software has been installed," "do not attempt to remove or uninstall any malware software," and do not escalate or send the customer to the Apple Retail Store.
According to Mac security firm Intego, MAC Defender targets users of that platform primarily through "SEO poisoning attacks," in which Web sites with malicious code use search optimization tricks to rank at the top of search results. A user who clicks on that search result is sent to a Web site that shows a fake screen and a fake malware scan, after which it tells the user that the computer is infected.
If the user proceeds with installation, MAC Defender launches. Intego describes the application as "very well designed," with a professional look, a number of different screens, attractive buttons, and correct spelling.
Malware Building Kit
Once installed, MAC Defender indicates that the computer is infected, and then opens Web pages for pornographic sites every few minutes. To counter the "virus," the user is prompted to buy into MAC Defender's "anti-virus" protection service.
After a credit card number has been entered into a license purchasing page, the Web porn and virus warnings stop. But there is no service, and the user has just given the malware authors a credit card number.
Intego recommends not installing the application to begin with, of course, and to uncheck the "open 'safe' files" option in Safari or other browsers.
This kind of fake anti-virus software has, for years, been the bane of many Windows users' existence, but this is the first time it's been designed to target Macs. In fact, reports indicate that early versions of the malware still showed a Windows interface.
Although a rare example, MAC Defender/MacSecurity/Mac Protector is likely to be followed by an upsurge of such attacks. Macs now have an installed base big enough to be worthy of attention by hackers, and security experts have noted that a new Mac-oriented, point-and-click malware building kit is on sale in the criminal underground.
Posted: 2011-05-28 @ 11:24am PT
Thanks...you saved me from a terrible wrecking ball with your "how to instructions"
Posted: 2011-05-22 @ 11:20am PT
thank you so much cjbanks10! i had that virus and just now was able to get rid of it. thank you thank you!
Posted: 2011-05-21 @ 9:12am PT
I got scammed with this too. And I took it off. Here's what to do:
1. Go to the Applications folder. Open "Utilities."
2. Open the "ACTIVITY MONITOR" under the "Utilities" folder. You will see a list of programs running. When you see "MacDefender/"MacScan" or whatever, select it and then click on the red button on the upper left corner of the window that says "QUIT PROCESS." The application will be forced to quit.
3. Now, go back to the Applications folder. Select the fake application software and drag it to the trash. You should be able to do this successfully since you forced the program to quit in the previous step. But keep following the next few steps, because you're not out of the woods--yet.
4. Open System Preferences. Click on "Accounts" and go have a look at the Login Items. You will also see MacDefender listed on there which will open itself at Startup. Click on the minus (-) symbol below the list of the login items, once you have selected the MacDefender app.
5. Clean out the trash. Bye-bye.
6. Go to Safari. Open Preferences. Uncheck the "Open safe items after downloading" box.
7. **RECOMMENDATION** Apple offers a ESET CyberSecurity software for around $43 or so. HOWEVER, I am going to warn you, be on the lookout for that same malware, because I caught it again when cruising around my usual sites and stopped it from downloading on my comp.
Hope this helps..
David L Mahler:
Posted: 2011-05-21 @ 7:05am PT
This is all great, but how do I get the pop-up boxes off my screen. I clicked on this to see what it was but did not enable it. Still, it is putting up pop-up boxes in the upper right hand corner of my screen every few minutes and is showing me a false Firefox page with the titles, "porn", "gayporn", and "viagra". Can you help me?
Posted: 2011-05-21 @ 3:24am PT
How does one get rid of it?
Posted: 2011-05-20 @ 8:45pm PT
Thanks for the warning. I have, alas, installed it, but not paid. I get lots of porn... How can I get rid of the program? When I want to put it in the trash, it refuses, saying that the program is active.