Mac Defender Malware: A Survival Guide for OS X Users

Apple says it has a fix in the works for the Mac Defender fake antivirus app that has plagued a surprising number of Mac users in recent weeks. The company recently posted a Mac Defender support page explaining how you can remove the malware from your system. Apple also says it will roll out an OS X software update to protect Mac users from future attacks.

Apple's technical support services have reportedly seen an uptick in complaints about Mac Defender malware attacks. One Apple Care representative recently told ZDNet that at its height 50 percent of customer support calls were seeking help for Mac Defender problems. At first, Apple was reportedly reluctant to help users remove the malware, saying it didn't want to set an expectation for future widespread malware problems.

But Apple had a change of heart since then and wants to deal with the problem head on. If you're a Mac user infected with Mac Defender or a person who just wants to brush up on your online security know-how, here's what you need to avoid the perils of Mac Defender.

What is Mac Defender?

Mac Defender is a fake antivirus program that tries to trick you into installing it on your OS X system (there is also a Windows variant). The program can be automatically downloaded to your computer through a malicious site or a pop-up might appear in your browser trying to convince you to download the rogue app.

Once Mac Defender is running on your system it will try to trick you into handing over your credit card information. Mac Defender tells you that your system has malware and claims that apps such as the Terminal are infected. It may also open browser windows and visit porn sites in an attempt to scare you into thinking you have a virus. Then the rogue app offers to fix your problem if you purchase the full version of Mac Defender. Once it has your credit card information, the porn pop-ups disappear, but now the bad guys have your credit card details.

Does Mac Defender Have Other Names?

The fake antivirus also goes by other names including MacProtector and MacSecurity, as well as Mac Defender.

Is this Malware related to MacDefender.org?

No.

What is Apple Doing About this?

Apple recently posted a Mac Defender support page on the company's site promising a software update for OS X. The update will search out and destroy Mac Defender malware if it's on your system. The security update will also alert you against downloading the scam app whenever you come across Mac Defender online.

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