Apple was silent for far too long on the matter of the Mac Defender Malware, a Rogue anti-virus application like those seen on Windows machines for the past few years. This type of malware tricks users into thinking they are protecting their computer by displaying false “infection” messages and offering a fix in exchange for money. There have been thousands of reports by irate OS X customers in recent weeks. Many of the people who called Apple support were referred vaguely to the forums for help. It was almost as if Apple didn’t want to have to acknowledge that they are not invulnerable after all.
Late on Tuesday, the Cupertino company finally released a support article which explains how to eradicate this nasty piece of so-called software. The article begins by admitting that a recent scam has targeted their fans by “redirecting them from legitimate websites to fake websites which tell them that their computer is infected with a virus. The user is then offered Mac Defender “anti-virus” software to solve the issue.” The rest of the piece gives detailed instructions on ridding yourself of this pesky problem.
Within the next few days, Apple promises to release an update to OS X which will automagically find and remove Mac Defender and all of its known variants. The update should also help protect users by giving warnings if they download the malware. The problem, as Windows users and security experts know, is that these malware writers pump out newer versions very quickly… which take a while to detect and fix.
Rogue anti-virus programs are quite the lucrative business. According to McAfee, the number of these types of programs has increased by nearly 400% since 2009, causing computer users a loss of about $300 million. I don’t really care if you’re a Mac or Windows fanatic. If something pops up on your screen that you haven’t already installed yourself and then claims you are infected… click NOTHING. Don’t be fooled into downloading or buying anything. Look for a fix immediately, and follow the recommended guidelines. One of the most reputable sites out there which is FULL of guides of this sort is Bleeping Computer. If you have trouble fixing the machine up yourself, their free forums are full of security experts who will gladly help you – for nothing more than your thanks.