Apple Finally Releases Fix for Mac Defender Malware

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.

Kaspersky Son Feared Kidnapped

Ivan Kaspersky, son of a Russian software giant, has been missing since April 19th. It is believed that the young man was abducted. Security powerhouse Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO and co-founder of antivirus company Kaspersky Lab, has asked only that the media stop spreading rumors and speculation. Nothing official has come forth from the Kaspersky camp, despite claims from local law enforcement that the allegation is true. There has reportedly even been a ransom demand to the tune of $4.3 million.

Many blogs are claiming that a kidnapping is par for the course within any big business in that country. Could that really be what motivated the people behind this?

Malware writers infect your machines and muck up your day for one reason: to make money. We’re talking about mass quantities of green, people. The little script kiddies you find writing simple botnets for IRC are in it for kicks. REAL malware makers are out to make cold, hard cash. It’s a multi-million dollar business – and one that unfortunately won’t disappear any time soon.

Let’s imagine for a moment what else the alleged kidnappers could ask for – other than cash – in exchange for young Ivan’s safe return. How much do you suppose Kaspersky’s technologies and databases are worth to those with nefarious things on their minds? I’m quite sure they are worth far more than four million smackers… especially to criminals who have no regard for the rest of us. It’s more than possible that these people would much rather get their hands on information than money.

It’s true that kidnapping for ransom is on the rise in Russia. People are being targeted for their fortunes instead of the type of business they are in. We are hopeful that this is nothing more than a case of a young kid taking some time for himself without letting family members know. If it turns out to be true, we further hope that it is directly related only to the fact that the senior Kaspersky has amassed a fortune in his lifetime and not to the type of work he does.

We will be following this story as the details unfold. Our thoughts and support go out to the Kaspersky family during this time of uncertainty.

Should an ISP Cut Off Infected Users?


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Damn these compromised systems. They’re ruining it for the rest of us. Someone on Lockergnome asked if ISPs should cut off bot-infected users. This refers to people who have computers that happen to be infected with software that can potentially turn their machine into a “zombie computer.” This allows someone to use the infected system as part of a bot net – or DDOS attack.

Why shouldn’t an ISP cut them off? That’s my thought. If an ISP can see that a machine is being used – and abused – in this manner, it’s their duty to keep others protected. Perhaps the user doesn’t even KNOW that their machine has been compromised in this manner. You can be infected with some pretty nasty malware without ever having any pop-ups or symptoms, and without knowing it.

Your ISP should be able to turn you off, and then contact you to let you know there’s an issue. The ISP could go so far as to suggest ways and/or tools to help the user get all cleaned up. Imagine if the ISP took that step to help their customer – we could all have better Internet. That may be a pretty lofty dream, but I think it’s a good one.
Bonus points for remixing the zombie disruption found in this video!

Does a Mac Need Security Software?


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A chat room visitor asked me if it’s necessary to have an anti-virus program installed on Mac OS X. Most people will tell you that it isn’t needed, but I have a feeling my assistant Kat won’t agree with that assessment.

Guess what? I happen to agree with her. You should run security software on your Mac. Just because there aren’t “many” pieces of malware out there for OS X doesn’t mean there are “none.” There are a few running around the wilds. Nothing is perfect. As more people turn to Mac more vulnerabilities will be released.

If you want to be safe, you want to run something that’s going to keep you clean and free from all digital nasties… not just a virus. Mac OS X can suffer from Spyware, yes. There may not be a lot of it, again, but it is there.

If you’re going to connect to the Internet, you need to do so safely – even on Linux.

What do YOU think?

Is That Website Safe?


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Aaron has recorded this screencast to show all of you how to figure out if a website you want to visit is safe or not. McAfee’s SiteAdvisor doesn’t require any downloads, and will give you a detailed report along with your green (or red!) light.

Not only does the report give you a red or green light, it also includes demographic information such as the country the site is located in and how popular it is. If there are downloads available on the web page, McAfee has already tested each and every one to be sure that it’s clean and free of malware.

Customer (visitor) commentary adds a nice touch to your report. See what others are saying about their experience visiting that site. You can become a member for free and add your thoughts to any web site report that you find.

You will find a handy little graph that shows you what other sites are affiliated with the site in question, as well as being able to quickly tell if they are “green” or not. When checking out my main site, you’ll find links off to my live page, Lockergnome and various other sites that I maintain. As I would expect, all of my sites have a green light.

Lastly, you’ll be able to see exactly what annoyances a site may hold – such as popups. The team at McAfee has built this excellent tool to help you learn how to stay safe online, and to alert you to potential dangers before you ever click that link.

Thanks to Aaron for this excellent tutorial.

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