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Apple Under Attack

Apple Under Attack

AppleCare rep: Mac malware is “getting worse” 19/05/2011
Apple finally moves to address Mac Defender malware 25/05/11
New Mac malware strikes 26/05/2011

information courtesy of PCR-online.biz

AppleCare rep: Mac malware is “getting worse” 19/05/2011
“Even though they’re using a Mac, they need antivirus”

An employee at one of Apple’s AppleCare call centres has spoken about the recent rise in malware reports on Apple machines, specifically with relation to the ‘Mac Defender’ trojan.

In an interview with ZDNet, the anonymous employee stated that they had received a growing number of calls from Mac users who had been infected by the malware. Mac Defender takes the form of ‘pesterware’ anti-virus software, which gives repeated alerts informing the user that they must purchase a full version – by entering credit card details, naturally – in order to get rid of a malware infection.

In the case of Mac Defender, if the user refuses to enter their details, the software pops a number of inappropriate images up on screen.

“We started getting a trickle of calls a couple weeks ago,” said the employee. “However, this last week over 50 per cent of our calls have been about it. In two days last week I personally took 60 calls that referred to Mac Defender.”

Disturbingly, the employee also revealed that AppleCare employees are not supposed to help users remove malware from their devices.

Apple finally moves to address Mac Defender malware 25/05/11 
Follows weeks of support staff ordered not to help

Weeks after the appearance of the ‘Mac Defender’ malware, Apple has finally acknowledged the issue and announced that a Mac OS X update will soon arrive which will remove the malicious application.

The issue has until now been met with a familiar Apple strategy, chiefly that of total silence. ZDNet’s Ed Bott said that while the firm’s lack of communication made the scale of the infection “impossible to know for sure” he went on to claim that Mac support calls about the issue numbered as many as 10,000 and 20,000 a day.

“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 firm said in a support article published on Tuesday.

“The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware.”

Bott said that Apple support staff morale at one of Apple’s third-party contract support firms was “horrid” with orders from above that they were not to help customers with the Mac Defender malware.

A document Bott purports to be a directive to support staff dated the 20th of May contains a raft of directives, at the direction of ‘the client’ (Apple), forbidding the support staff from providing any advice that might actually assist with removing the malware.

New Mac malware strikes 26/05/2011
MacGuard variant hits less than 12 hours after Apple patches Mac Defender

Less than twelve hours after Apple’s belated move to help users get rid of the Mac Defender virus, a more dangerous variant of the malware – MacGuard – has been reported.

The new variant was detected by Mac security company Intego, which warns that unlike Mac Defender, MacGuard doesn’t require the user to enter a password in order for the software to install itself on a system.

Like its predecessor, the goal of the program is to trick the user in to entering their credit card details, and apparently uses the same tactic of opening pornographic webpages every few minutes as incentive to do so.

However, this version apparently utilises an option in the Safari browser, which ensures that ‘safe’ files are opened immediately after download, ensuring that the installation process is started without any checks by the user.

Interestingly, this variant is most dangerous to Mac users using the Safari browser. Apple currently holds 9.5 per cent of the global PC market and Safari comprises just 7.2 per cent of browser usage, suggesting that these instances of malware are specifically targeted at Apple and its products.

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