A fake security program for Apple computers called MACDefender is infecting a growing number of victims.Hundreds of people who installed the software are turning to Apple’s forums for help to remove it.
The program’s tactic of populating users’ screens with pornographic pictures has increased the urgency of victims to find a solution quickly.
MACDefender seems to have been successful because of the work its creators did to make it appear high up in search results through search engine optimisation.
The number of people seeking help was uncovered by ZDNet journalist Ed Bott. Ironicaaly he is a Microsoft specialist but his blog post, he wrote about finding more than 200 separate discussions on Apple’s official forums about MACDefender malware security software.
The volume of reports about the problem was “exceptional” in his experience, he said.
The fake Mac anti-virus software, which goes by the name of both MACDefender and Mac Security, began circulating in early May and has been steadily racking up new victims.
Such programs, often called scareware, urge people to install software that then pretends to scan a machine for security problems. It then fabricates a list of threats it has found and asks for cash before it will fix these non-existent problems.
One trick the software uses to make people cough up cash quicker is to launch the browser of unattended machines and call up one of several different pornographic websites.
Although the vast majority of malware that security firms see is aimed at Windows users, there is much less malware in existence for Mac OS X than there is for Windows.
But that’s no reason to blithely think that there are no Mac threats.