How to remove MacDefender Malware



A few days ago, your Digits blogger got a call from her father, asking her about a strange program called MacSecurity that had popped up on his machine, told him he had a “virus” and automatically started downloading an installer program to “help” him.


Fortunately, he was suspicious and ran some legitimate anti-virus software that promptly informed him of the real problem – MacSecurity.


The malware, which more commonly uses the names MacDefender and MacProtector, has been targeting Mac users over the past few weeks – and now Apple has instructions to help.

The company says it will be updating its Mac OS X software in the next few days to automatically remove the malware and its known variants, which aim to trick users into entering their credit card information. The program does this by telling users that their computer has a virus and offering to remove it – if they enter their card number to “buy” the software.

While you’re waiting for the Mac OS update, Apple is providing instructions for removal on its site. Even Mac owners with anti-virus software might want to follow these steps to see whether they have the malware, in case MacDefender and its ilk have interfered with the anti-virus programs.

The message from Apple also tells people how to avoid installing the software in the first place – including doing a “force quit” of their Web browser if necessary. If the malware installer automatically downloaded, users can just go to the Downloads folder and drag the installer to the trash.


There’s also some standard advice for people to avoid phishing scams like MacDefender. First and foremost – don’t give your credit card or other personal information to any sketchy pop-up from the Internet, ever. If anything on the Internet ever tells you something is wrong with your computer, do not believe it. Run away.

This advice is general common sense, but such scams aren’t something that Apple users have had to worry about too much in the past. For one thing, it’s simply more lucrative for scammers to target PCs because those account for the vast majority of computers.

But as Macs have become more popular – and as criminals look for new targets – some tech experts have been expecting an increase in attempts to attack Mac users.


In the case of MacDefender, Apple came in for criticism because of the time that went by before the company posted its response. Several technology blogs, including ZDNet, reported that support staff was not helping users remove MacDefender from users’ computers but was directing people to third-party virus-protection software.

Apple doesn’t recommend any particular anti-malware tool, although it provides links to several “staff picks” for outside software on its site. The company also says it provides security updates for the Mac exclusively through Apple software updates and that users should be suspicious of any programs claiming that a security problem has been detected.