Over the past few years there have been a number of fake anti-virus software suites released for the Windows operating system platforms. Each of these claims that there are a series of viruses or other threats on your computer, telling you that you must install their software to get rid of them. But when you install it, they demand money.
These fake software suites infect people’s computers when they visit an infected web page. The page will have a pop up suddenly show, that claims to be an anti-virus software suite. The web page will specifically deliver images that look like they are genuine anti-virus software. The screen shots will look like commonly used software, and are now being targeted at Apple Mac computers. Currently they go by two names-MacDefender and Mac Security.
When a user then selects to install the fake software (with the hopes of using it to remove the threats that don’t actually exist) it actually installs malware onto the computer. For this reason it is often called ‘scareware’ as it uses tactics designed to scare the user into installing it, and then paying a sum of money to supposedly clean the computer.
Once a machine is infected, the software does its best to force the owner to pay up the sum of money that it requests. It does this by using the browser on the computer to automatically open up multiple pages on websites depicting explicit sexual images, essentially overtaking the machine as it does so.
The problem is that instead of cleaning the machine once the software is paid for, it continues to install new malware. Ultimately the computer will be crippled by the installed malware. Removal of the malware can be time consuming and difficult, as it often has ways of hiding in backups, or other hidden files. This is very much a case of prevention being better than a cure.
One of the many reasons that people opt to buy a Mac computer instead of a Windows computer is that there are far fewer viruses and other threats circulating for Macs. However it would be foolish to consider Macs to be invulnerable to malware, because unfortunately there are hackers who have specifically targetted the Apple system. The threats may be fewer but are still very real, and very damaging to those who are infected.
For that reason it remains incredibly important for all computer users-Windows, Mac, and even Linux users to remain vigilant. Never install software claiming to be an anti-virus program, because the truth is that only your currently installed anti-virus software would have sufficient access to your computer to know that there are threats already on it. If the software is asking to be installed then you can be sure that it is a fake, and designed to make your life miserable.
Apple are working on a fix that will heal the MacDefender and Mac Security infections, but this hopefully will draw people’s attention to the fact that Macs too face their risks.