My neighbor cornered me while buying another case of Pampers at Walmart this morning. In his best Welcome to the Club™ grin, he said, “Hey there, Mac lady. There’s another new virus hitting your precious little Macs. Just like PCs.”
If I hadn’t been carrying a three-year-old and chasing two others down the aisle, I would have dropped to the floor and bit him on the knee. “No Mac viruses,” I cried out.
Mac Virus, Wherefore Art Thou?
That brief encounter highlights a growing problem with adults who use PCs. They don’t pay attention. Let me repeat. No Mac viruses. Well, Missy Alex, what about all those headlines on the news?
The latest bit of malware for Macs is called Mac Defender*#% (not a virus).
It’s a fake anti-virus app that starts life as a malicious link on search results. Click the link and a pop up window says your Mac has a virus.
Follow all the steps and you might download and inadvertently install the Mac Defender app (it’s a trojan, not a virus) to your Mac.
After that, the real fun and games begin.
Real Fun And Games
Once installed, Mac Defender presents you with a sincere and professional looking app window, occasional warnings, a few fake windows of a virus maybe kinda sorta doing something terrible to your Mac.
The pièce de résistance of the app’s efforts to fool you is when it presents an opportunity for you to hand over your credit card numbers for the fully licensed anti-virus app. Uh oh. Caveat emptor, folks.
Needless to say, I have some problems with this whole mess.
Second, if you need more details on Mac Defender, Precise Security has the scoop.
Third, anti-Mac hit whoring has become a pastime among PC-oriented digital rags in need of hitting the ever-increasing daily quota of page hits. Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report—Coming soon to a Mac near you: serious malware.
Bott talks a good game, folks, using terms like widespread attack, malware, trojan, virus almost interchangeably, all in an ongoing attempt to equate Mac user’s problems with Windows PC users’ problems.
It’s crying wolf. A headline-grabbing trojan horse does not an entire platform corrupt (in the Windows sense). In Wolf!, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out the obvious with a healthy list of headlines foretelling the coming Mac virus and malware scourge—in headlines dating back to 2004.
We’re still waiting. Macworld carries a few more details on the latest virus onslaught. It’s worthy reading, but do so before you run out and buy three or four anti-virus, anti-spyware apps that can’t find what doesn’t exist. Here’s Apple’s official line on viruses and malware.
This isn’t a What me Worry? response. Malware of any kind, Mac or Windows, is bad for everyone. Exercise some care. Watch what you click. Watch more closely what you download and install on your Mac.
And, remember Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” Likewise, any headline that screams Mac users are in immediate danger is crying wolf. Again.
If you bump into me and snicker that Mac’s get viruses, I will bite your knee.