Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Much ado about not much

Much schadenfraude among Windoze victims over this, but in the end, Mac or Windoze, it all comes down to the same thing: problem exists between monitor and chair.

One of the most pervasive and costly types of infection is now hitting Mac computers, signalling the end of an age of innocence for Apple customers, who until now have been spared many common cybersecurity problems.

Known as rogue antivirus or scareware, the scam programs warn PC and now Mac owners that they have been infected, then demand credit card payments to clean the machines.

The operators of the programs are typically criminals who may resell the card details or try to install more malicious software.

PCs running Microsoft’s Windows operating system have been besieged by scareware for years. Though scareware infections can begin in a number of ways, they are often triggered by the ability in popular web browsers to download programs automatically.

In the past few weeks, a large number of Mac users have run into the same problem, encountering scareware with names like MacDefender, MacSecurity and MacProtector when using Apple’s standard Safari browser for web surfing. The programs sport professional-looking interfaces and have been lurking in advertisements on media sites and links returned by Google searches.

For Mac owners running Safari in the default mode that enables downloading of “safe” files, the malicious programs began installing automatically and then prompted the users for their passwords to finish the job. If they complied, the software ran when the machine restarted, reporting bogus infections and asking for payment.

And there you have it: If they complied. There’s no reason to, so don’t. These things almost always work via the same assumption: the user is a gullible sap. They simply don’t work otherwise. But if there are any of you out there who have gotten tricked into clicking on something you shouldn’t have, here are instructions on how to get rid of it. And may the people who code these things all burn in hell for a thousand years. At least.


3 thoughts on “Much ado about not much

  1. in the end, Mac or Windoze, it all comes down to the same thing: problem exists between monitor and chair.

    To be exact, it’s a case of PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.

    Though to be fair, avoiding this kind of malware requires a level of paranoia that few people want to sink to. It really is a very depressing way to live, to always be wondering “who’s trying to screw me this time?”, even when the intrusion is legitimate.

    Which is, of course, why this sort of malware is so successful.

    And may the people who code these things all burn in hell for a thousand years. At least.


  2. Turned up on my Firefox browser the other day. I went into preferences and blocked that address, then forced quit, did a full virus scan, cleared the cache, and re-started.

    No problems since, and I still prefer my Mac.

  3. Saw the first one pop up on my Mac over the weekend. After decades as a Windows at work/Mac at home user, I automatically shut down and restarted. No further problems. Not very elegant but these scams are totally obvious to anyone who has used Windows and who pays attention.
    However I worry that the bottom-feeding scum who invent these things will get more sophisticated before long. I had one on my Windows work computer that did its evil worst when I just clicked on a defunct link on a weblog.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

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