Upcoming OS X update will address MacDefender malware

Thu, May 26, 2011


A few weeks ago we highlighted MacDefender, a new pice of malware that specifically targets OS X users. Using SEO, malicious links can be found via benign Google searches, and once a link is clicked, users are directed to a website where javascript automatically begins downloading a .zip file. While initial versions of the malware required a user to enter in his system password to actually install the malicious code, an updated version now works without the need for a password.

What also makes MacDefender so dangerous is that it masquerades as a piece of anti-malware software, something all too familiar to Windows users but relatively new to the Mac. Compounding matters is that the malware is elegantly designed and, on its face, appears legitimate.

Now, about three weeks later, Apple has posted a new Knowledge Base article where it explains that it will issue a new OS X update to address Mac Defender and remove it from infected systems.

In the coming days, Apple will deliver a Mac OS X software update that will automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants. The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware.

The OS X update, the article explains, will also warn users who inadvertantly attempt to download the malware. Apple also explains how to manually remove the malware from infected machines and notes that other names for this malware include MacProtector and MacSecurity.

So be on the look out folks – both for the malware and the OS X update.

But while some folks are heralding a new age of Mac malware, Rich Mogull of Macworld wisely warns that we should keep things in perspective.

So I understand that some of you worry that Mac Defender is a scary sign of things to come. But while the Mac security situation really is changing, those changes are due almost entirely to attackers’ changing tactics and have little to do with the inherent strength or weakness of Mac security. The bottom line: You should pay attention to Mac security. But you don’t need to freak out about it.



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