After a 25-day delay Apple finally responded to the appearance of the fake anti-virus scam called Mac Defender (there are other variants called Mac Protector and Mac Security) designed to trick Apple users into paying for bogus security software.
Apple’s response countermands the company’s earlier directive insisting support reps NOT help users remove the malware. Now they’ve provided reps with a “How to avoid or remove Mac Defender malware,” script for helping consumers who have been exposed to the malware. Apple also committed to developing a security update to remove infections automatically.
Unfortunately, it took less than 12 hours for the malware writer to morph his code so that the instructions for fixing the problem were no longer effective according to an article in ZDNet.
Malware isn’t Static
According to the ZDNet article, the malware variant was found in a Google search under yet another name, MacGuard, and does not require the user to enter the administrator password to be installed. These permutations will continue because all malware evolves; to expect this to be different for Apple users is absurd.
Apple OSx users have now joined Windows users in the perpetual cat and mouse world of malware where variations and entirely new forms of malware spring up to enable criminals revenue streams, the real question is what will users and Apple do about it? There are really only three choices: 1) pretend this is a one-time experience and do nothing, 2) address the issue and any future issue as they arise, 3) acknowledge the Apple OSx will face ongoing exploits and proactively prepare for defense.
For users this means installing anti-malware software if you have not already done so. It may also mean taking the time to learn a few skills to help you identify and avoid malware that comes creeping your way.
For Apple, which has prided itself on their ‘it just works’ clean experiences, the refusal to help infected users, then the 25-day response time is a double black eye.
As windows users can attest, sticking your head in the sand will leave your rear end rather exposed.