New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

New 'MACDefender' Malware Threat for Mac OS X


Antivirus firm Intego today noted the discovery of new malware known as "MACDefender" targeting Mac OS X users via Safari. According to the report, the malware appears to be being deployed via JavaScript as a compressed ZIP file reached through Google searches.

When a user clicks on a link after performing a search on a search engine such as Google, this takes them to a web site whose page contains JavaScript that automatically downloads a file. In this case, the file downloaded is a compressed ZIP archive, which, if a specific option in a web browser is checked (Open "safe" files after downloading in Safari, for example), will open.

More information is available in Apple's support communities (1, 2), where users report that the malware is popping up directly in Google image searches.

Users running administrator accounts and with the Safari option to open "safe" files automatically checked appear to be most at risk, with some claiming that no notification of installation was seen or password required. Only when a screen popped up asking for a credit card number to sign up for virus protection did they realize that malware had been installed on their systems.

For those infected with the MACDefender malware, the following steps are recommended:

1. Open Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor and quit any processes linked to MACDefender.

2. Delete MACDefender from the Applications folder.

3. Check System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items for suspicious entries

4. Run a Spotlight search for "MACDefender" to check for any associated files that might still be lingering.

Full details on the malware and the simplest steps needed for its complete removal are still being investigated.

Users are of course reminded that day-to-day system usage with standard accounts rather than administrator ones, as well as unchecking the Safari option for automatically opening "safe" files, are two of the simplest ways users can enhance their online security, adding extra layers of confirmation and passwords in the way of anything being installed on their systems.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

47 months ago

lol

10 years and finally a malware attack.

Still unreal.

:D


Actually there's been malware for OS X since it was introduced. There is malware for every operating system.

Nothing can defend against user stupidity.
Rating: 8 Votes
47 months ago

WOW! Malware that requires the user to do a Google search, then download, and install. For all of this, it asks for your credit card number.

How can we ever defend our computers against such a diabolical threat?!


Hum, download and install are automatic. Good thing I don't use Safari.


As I understand it, Safari will open the zip file since it's a "safe" download. But that doesn't mean it'll execute the code within that zip file, so how is this malware executing without user permission?


I haven't seen this malware first hand, but a zip file can be made with absolute paths, making "unzipping" the file put everything where it needs to be to start up automatically on next log in/reboot.

Who's the brainiac who made zip files "safe" ?

so much for the no malware on macs myth :D
funny how the apple fanboys are getting all defensive :rolleyes:


No viruses on the Mac. There's been malware for OS X for quite a while now.
Rating: 8 Votes
47 months ago

Mac OS X fanboys really need to stop clinging to the mentality that "viruses" don't exist for OS X


They don't.
Rating: 6 Votes
47 months ago

4. Run a Spotlight search for "MACDefender" to check for any associated files that might still be lingering

That's a sure way *not* to find any related files.

The only effective method for complete app removal is manual deletion:
Best way to FULLY DELETE a program (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=11171082&postcount=16)

One thing Macs need anti-virus is to scan mails for Windows viruses, so that those doesn't to you PC. That is all.

That doesn't protect Windows PCs from malware from other sources, which is a far greater threat than receiving files from a Mac. Each Windows user should be running their own anti-virus, to protect them from malware from all sources.

Yes so much. Because Malware can copy itself and infect a computer.

No, only a virus can do that. A trojan requires user involvement to spread.

So few virus for MAC than when one appears it is news... :)

This isn't a virus.

Mac OS X fanboys really need to stop clinging to the mentality that "viruses" don't exist for OS X and that "malware" is a Windows-only problem.

I agree. While no Mac OS X viruses exist at this time, that doesn't mean they won't in the future. And malware has always been a threat. What's important is to understand the kinds of threats and the most effective methods for protection.


The fact is, the days of viruses are long gone.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that. Just when you do, someone will release a new virus into the wild. While they may not be as prevalent as they once were, they're by no means extinct.


The fact is, understanding the proper terminology and different payloads and impacts of the different types of malware prevents unnecessary panic and promotes a proper security strategy.

I'd say it's people that try to just lump all malware together in the same category, making a trojan that relies on social engineering sound as bad as a self-replicating worm that spreads using a remote execution/privilege escalation bug that are quite ignorant of general computer security.

The best defense a Mac user has against current malware threats is education and common sense. Understanding the basic differences between a virus, trojan, worm, and other types of malware will help a user defend against them. Doing simple things like unchecking the "Open "safe" files after downloading" option is quite effective.


I despise the "X is a file downloaded from the Internet" dialog introduced in SL. Really wish you could disable it.

That's one of the simple lines of defense for a user, as it lets them know they're about to open a newly-downloaded app. It only does that the first time you launch the app, so why bother disabling such a helpful reminder?

To the end user it makes no difference. It's fine if you know, but to a novice quickly correcting them on the difference between a virus, a trojan, or whatever else contributes approximately zero percent towards solving the problem.

Actually, it helps a user to have some understanding about malware. Part of the problem is a novice user is likely to engage in dangerous activities, such as installing pirated software, unless they know what a trojan is and how it infects a system. Also, understanding what a virus is, how it spreads, and the fact that none exist for Mac OS X will prevent them from instantly assuming that everything unexpected that happens on their Mac is the result of a virus. Also, understanding that antivirus apps can't detect a virus that doesn't yet exist will prevent them from installing AV and having a false sense of security, thinking they're immune to threats. Educating a user goes a very long way in protecting them, by teaching them to practice safe computing habits.

Mac Virus/Malware Info (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9400648&postcount=4)
Rating: 5 Votes
47 months ago
The article -> http://blog.intego.com/2011/05/02/macdefender-rogue-anti-malware-program-attacks-macs-via-seo-poisoning/

Here is how it works:

In this case, the file downloaded is a compressed ZIP archive, which, if a specific option in a web browser is checked (Open “safe” files after downloading in Safari, for example), will open. The file is decompressed, and the installer it contains launches ...


If the user continues through the installation process, and enters an administrator’s password, the software will be installed.

Rating: 4 Votes
47 months ago

Is your info from like 1993 ? Because this little known version of Windows dubbed "New Technology" or NT for short brought along something called the NTFS (New Technology File System) that has... *drumroll* ACLs and strict permissions with inheritance...

Unless you're running as administrator on a Windows NT based system, you're as protected as a "Unix/Linux" user. Of course, you can also run as root all the time under Unix, negating this "security".

So again I ask, what about Unix security protects you from these attacks that Windows can't do ?

And I say this as a Unix systems administrator/fanboy. The multi-user paradigm that is "Unix security" came to Windows more than 18 years ago. It came to consumer versions of Windows about 9 years ago if you don't count Windows 2000 as a consumer version.



Wait, knowledge is ignorance ? 1984 much ?

The fact is, understanding the proper terminology and different payloads and impacts of the different types of malware prevents unnecessary panic and promotes a proper security strategy.

I'd say it's people that try to just lump all malware together in the same category, making a trojan that relies on social engineering sound as bad as a self-replicating worm that spreads using a remote execution/privilege escalation bug that are quite ignorant of general computer security.


Great post! I think the biggest reason security has been so problematic on Windows, aside from the fact that it's the biggest target, is that the default user type is administrator.
The kind of issue in this case, caused by user ignorance, is really the only threat that exist for Windows since XP SP2. Internet Explorer has had sufficient, but very annoying, security measures against this since version 7 and I'm surprised Safari can let these kind of things slide through so easily.
Security in Windows has been pretty solid for years now, but that hasn't stopped many Linux/Unix/OSX-fanboys from claiming Windows security is like a swizz cheese. They don't even bother to do some research, they just keep shouting the same old mantra.
Rating: 4 Votes
47 months ago

As I understand it, Safari will open the zip file since it's a "safe" download. But that doesn't mean it'll execute the code within that zip file, so how is this malware executing without user permission?


That's what I'd like to know. I can't even open HTML pages downloaded from my own website without OS X warning me before opening it, and yet this story makes it sound as if the file contained in the zip is somehow launching on its own without any user notification. Sounds like BS to me. What is the source for this?

Edit: I see. It starts an installer that the user has to go along with willingly, and therefore it's nothing even remotely similar to the stealth install crapware on Windows. Next.
Rating: 4 Votes
47 months ago

unbiased as opposed to a Mac site.... yeah right!


Mac users tend to be a better target for old fashioned phishing/vishing because...well, 'nothing bad happens on a Mac..' right?


Now from google pointing 'sources', you are consistently jumping on to mac users, eh?

Good going.

Yup nothing happens to my mac except for what I do it. It's that simple. Why don't you just ask Google why they decided to abandon Windows?
Rating: 4 Votes
47 months ago

unbiased as opposed to a Mac site.... yeah right!


Mac users tend to be a better target for old fashioned phishing/vishing because...well, 'nothing bad happens on a Mac..' right?


Sure it can, but it's the percentage and the variables of these "bad" incidents that are key as you are generalizing without specifics.

How about unbiased studies, and percentages of viruses and malware between the two? Those would be facts (again, from an impartial party/experiment).

Also, you're on a Mac based website, so of course there are OS X defenders. Go to Engadget, et al if you don't wish to be here, you're free to decide :)
Rating: 4 Votes
47 months ago

google…
"OS X more secure than Windows"


There, fixed it for ya (and the "'s too) ;)

OS X and Windows have their pro's and con's, no OS is 100% secure. OS X based systems are generally more secure than Windows systems. I could google "OS X safer than Windows" and find as many claims as you suggest, but that would be bias. Google " 'OS X versus Windows' security' ", you will most likely discover articles/studies with no bias/agenda. If OS X wasn't more secure than Windows OS systems, why aren't more users running anti-virus/malware utilities?

However (and read my posts), working in the field I can assure you 75%+ of my clients have security/virus/malware issues with everything from XP-W7. Executable's are the equivalent to barfing into your system; they get everywhere and are difficult to remove.

If Windows followed Apple and developed hardware to utilize their OS instead of coding an OS for a myriad of profiles (and ditching antiquated BIOS for EFI) it would allow for a better end user experience and for MS to focus on better security. Yet this would mean millions to billions for businesses to reinvest in new hardware as well as MS producing a good product (based on their industrial design team and product history, I wouldn't bet on it).
Rating: 4 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]