Apple acknowledges Mac Defender malware, offers help

By Jos · 47 replies
May 25, 2011
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  1. Apple computers are often touted to offer a virus-free computing experience, as opposed to Windows, but as the platform increases in popularity it is also becoming a more serious target…

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  2. example1013

    example1013 TS Enthusiast Posts: 265

    It's bad that this is going around, and that Apple was basically lights-out on the issue, but to know that removing it is as easy as deleting the application? Damn, I wish it were that easy to find and remove malware on Windows. Hopefully this will help push for tighter security, though.
  3. Wagan8r

    Wagan8r TS Evangelist Posts: 603   +64

    It's that easy because Macs have ZERO anti-virus protection from Apple. There's no need to get sneaky with your malware until you have to. Besides, how many Mac users do you think even know how to kill a process? Heck, how many know what that even means!?
  4. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    This Mac Defender 'virus' is just a trojan that any kid with some coding experience could write. There's no system infalible to a naive person.

    To "get infected" you have to navigate into some malicious site, notice that the file was downloaded behind your back to you downloads folder, open your downloads folder and notice this unknown file. Mount this unknown disk image called 'Mac Defender' and then run an installer included in it that after some steps asks for your administrator password. And voila you're infected.

    This kind of "malware" have long been available in OS X, I remember similar stories going back to 2004. And they've never been widespread, the only place where they get widespread is in the media that loves getting these kind of headlines.
  5. example1013

    example1013 TS Enthusiast Posts: 265

    I mean, it's really simple stuff. Like, it's basically the same as Task Manager as far as I can tell.

    Also, as Mario stated, it asks for an administrator password, because OSX has been using what's essentially UAC for close to 10 years now, as an added layer of protection. So you really have to be stupid to actually get infected anyways, although I didn't address that point in my first post because I realize that there will, inevitably, be people who are that stupid. It's how anti-virus companies make their money (at least on macs).
  6. jetkami

    jetkami TS Booster Posts: 100

    "It's unclear how widespread the issue really is or why the company was downright preventing support personnel from helping customers -- beyond suggesting users that they research antivirus alternatives on their own."

    Ah hahaha cough* cough* ...Ah hahahaha* tears rolling down cheaks, on the floor holding piss in.
  7. While it is unfortunate that Apple decided to handle it this way, it's even more surprising that it's this big of an issue. Nothing on a Mac can be run without the users permission. For an app to be installed it has to be mounted, and dropped into the Applications folder. From there you have to run it. Somewhere in there you most likely had to type in your password. The reason Macs don't get viruses is because they can't be installed without user help. So marioestrada said.

    This problem exists because Apple has created a large following of NON tech savvy people who are two stupid to NOT install Mac Defender. The other chunk of users know better.
  8. Wagan8r

    Wagan8r TS Evangelist Posts: 603   +64

    Wait, you WANT him to write a trojan??
  9. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Thats not entirely true, there is some form of protection, presumably what is going to be updated in the software update.

    I'm sure there are a lot of people that don't know how to kill a process. Probably a lot that don't know how to do it in Windows too. The number is probably higher in OS X, but that may just be because in OS X and prior Mac OS versions it seems (in my experience) if a program is going to crash, it closes on its own a lot more often than it hangs. In Windows, they seem to hang more than just go away, so people are more familiar with ctrl-alt-del or ctrl-shift-esc to get a program to close.

    To the guy saying if its easy write one. I'm no programmer, but it seems to me to be as simple as creating an app, giving an intro and install screen with enough wording to convince someone to install. Then when they run the program throw up a scan button (maybe even let them choose what path to scan), then a few screens of updating progress. A screen after that saying you are infected with something and say this is just trial software, for removal please purchase the full version by entering a form of payment. It doesn't seem to be a modern marvel of coding to create these types of malware.
  10. example1013

    example1013 TS Enthusiast Posts: 265

    Millions of people own Apple computers. "Thousands" were infected. That seems extremely small-scale for an infection. Even assuming 100,000 people were infected, that's still not even as big as some of the larger botnets out there, nevermind the number of people who get infected daily with Trojans, keyloggers, and everything else every day with WIndows.

    In other words, this isn't widespread at all, and people are making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, nice to know that Macs have a way to be infected. Millions of people also fall for Nigerian Prince scams, and that's not even restricted to computers, nevermind OSes.
  11. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    @marinkvasina I don't write malware, but you can find my open source code on GitHub :). And read @SNGX1275's comment he basically described how you could write on and he has no programming knowledge. This MACDefender trojan doesn't even harm your data it will only open a webpage and ask for your credit card information. Anyway you might see it this is not state of the art malware.
  12. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,147   +912

    haha! this is funny, Apple not only is releasing an update but helping users with a virus?! whats going on Apple!

    Also to everyone who is saying "but a UAC style thing pops up..." "they have been doing that for 10 years now..."

    When windows introduced UAC in Vista it was one of the most hated things ever! everyone just clicks contimue, same in Windows 7.

    Now if Macs have been doing that for 10 years now? I pretty sure people just click "continue".

    Anyway I don't really care, I don't own a Mac and don't ever plan to, I have an iPhone 3GS, as long as that doesn't start getting a stupid UAC typ thing, i'm happy :)
  13. I work for a large hospital on the helpdesk. All of the doctors have macs and constantly have issues access our remote citrix applications. We are primarily a Windows shop and have limited support for Macs. If you are doing a lot of video editing or photoshop, fine, pay 4 times more for your Computer. Their main reason for getting Macs is because there are no viruses. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are more security vulnerabilities in OSX than there are in Windows. They are just not exploited because why would you write a virus that affects 10 million Macs when you could for 100's of millions of PCs. I actually purchased a Mac mini, so I could support my customers better. I primarily use it for a media center PC, and it locks up and crashes way more than my PC.

  14. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,377   +286

    Because as has been said, viruses, malware etc.... is in a much larger scale widespread accross the internet for Window's rather then OSX.
  15. Cota

    Cota TS Enthusiast Posts: 513   +8

    I dont think you understand how easy is to make viruses... im a Mac hater so let me give you a 1 line MS. Windows virus i "made" to skip design class.

    Of course this command was banned from working, you can compile the app but it wont stuck the OS now, Mac OS doesnt have viruses because its not a big market to infect people and steal info, however yet we have this post :)
  16. Jos

    Jos TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 3,073   +97

    @marioestrada as you point out it's not a sophisticated malware by any means and it's true that these stories are often blown out of proportion -- which is why I noted that it's unclear how widespread this issue really is. What caught my attention, however, is why would Apple go out of its way to explicitly prohibit their support staff from taking any action that could help customers with Mac Defender related problems. Here's an extract from the alleged leaked document posted by ZDNet:

  17. colinf

    colinf TS Enthusiast Posts: 47   +7

    exactly...why did Apple deny its existence and order employees not to help
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,006   +2,532

    Why exactly does Apple do anything? Because it came to Steve Jobs in a vision.
  19. Guest writes: "I actually purchased a Mac mini, so I could support my customers better. I primarily use it for a media center PC, and it locks up and crashes way more than my PC. "

    Maybe you have a dud but I would diagnose PEBCAK. It is absolutely rare (to the point I don't even remember) that I have had to powercycle my mac in the 4 years I've owned it. Software Update works a dream - use it.

    I would like to say the same thing about my PC but that would be dishonest. Though Windows 7 has improved it, they are not even on the same planet in terms of pain vs gain.

    Macs tend to attract better quality human beings for a number of reasons (and no I'm not talking about price as that is simply a natural result of higher quality). This is the primary reason there are so few virii on the Mac.

    you never see quality brand beer empties discarded on the side of the road
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,006   +2,532

    Wax on......Wax off... Actually I think there's a lot more waxing off going on here......But judge for yourselves...
    You da man....!

    Although, "viruses" is the commonly accepted English plural form of, "virus".

    It's not. "virii", which is a vulgar slang form, commonly used by ill bred Apple trolls because they think it makes them appear somehow more "sophisticated".

    Now be a good little "App-Holian", run along and wax your Mac-Mini........Oh, and before I forget.... hooray for you... :rolleyes:
  21. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    Of course...of hates to receive several Virii unto thine Mac.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,006   +2,532

    Mac-Mini......Mac-Mini.....Mac-Mini....Mac-Mini...Mac-Mini..Mac-Mini.Mac-Mini......Ooooo, Ahhhhh..

    "My eyes are bulgin' boss"......
  23. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    2011, 2 almost harmless trojans and every media is going nuts on this stories. Let's see what "security experts" have been saying for almost 10 years.


    "The truth is that the Mac OS is just as vulnerable as Microsoft Windows."?Lance Ulanoff, Security, IT Hub.


    "Windows is more secure than you think, and Mac OS X is worse than you ever imagined."?Matthew Broersma, Techworld.


    "The naming of Apple's Mac OS X to the list of latest warning from security experts to users that Apple's operating system is not immune to threats."?Robert Lemos, Security Focus

    "Attacks on Apple's OS X operating system, thought by many who use the Mac to be virtually immune from hackers, are on the rise, according to a report from Symantec, an anti-virus software vendor."?Wired.


    "Several security researchers have predicted that 2006 will be the year Mac OS X loses its image as a "safe" operating system."?Matthew Broersma, Techworld.

    "Anti-virus software firm McAfee has identified Mac OS X as a growing target for malware attacks."?John Leyden, The Register.


    "There will be a significant rise in virus attacks on both the Mac and open-source platforms, according to renowned security expert, Eugene Kaspersky."?Barry Collins, PC Pro.

    "After years of relative safety in obscurity, the Apple Mac is becoming an increasingly tempting target for malicious computer hackers, according to a new report published this week."?Kevin Allison, Financial Times.

    The reality is that the era of serene isolation is ending, partly because of technical changes that increase a Mac's vulnerability to infected documents-and even programs?originally created on a PC."?James Fallow, The Atlantic.


    "With Apple's market share now around 8.5 percent and growing quickly, with sales of almost 2.5 million last quarter these Mac newbies are a tempting target for profit-minded cybercriminals."?Dwight Silverman,

    "Macintosh computers have been gaining market share and catching the interest of hackers, according to Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) security vulnerability analyst Cameron Hotchkies."?Glenn Chapman, Yahoo.


    "For years, Apple fans have claimed that Macs are invulnerable to attack, while belittling Windows as being full of security holes. Now the tables are turned."?Preston Gralla, Computerworld.

    "According to a new article by CNN, Mac users now have something to worry about when it comes to security. Mac computers are known for their near immunity to malicious computer programs that plague PC?s."?Shawn Moniz, Shawn's Technology spot.


    "Mac and iPhone users may think they are immune from viruses and malware, however as the operating system becomes more popular more cybercriminals will be attracted to this growing base," warned Symantec's product development director, Con Mallon." ?Jonny Evans, Computerworld.
  24. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    Blaming the OS for this attacks would be like blaming Microsoft for people being scammed by a nigerian prince because they got an email through Hotmail.

    Apple will remove and protect against this MacDefender/MacGuard threat in their next update, but really all they are doing is putting a stop on all this ill generated press. Because this program is just attacking people's innocence or naivety.
  25. Well spit it out

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