MacDefender, MacProtector, MacSecurity: How to Remove This Malware from Your Mac

Chris CrumTechnology

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MacDefender, MacProtector ,and MacSecurity are the names for a fraudulent "anti-virus software" that is the subject of recent phishing campaigns targeting Mac users. It affects users of Mac OS X 10.4, Mac OS X 10.6, and Mac OS X 10.5.

Apple will be putting out a Mac OS X update that will automatically find and remove the malware and its known variants in the coming days. This will include a warning that appears when it is downloaded.

The company also put out some step-by-step instructions for the prevention of installing the malware and for its removal. To avoid installing it, the company says:

If any notifications about viruses or security software appear, quit Safari or any other browser that you are using. If a normal attempt at quitting the browser doesn’t work, then Force Quit the browser.

In some cases, your browser may automatically download and launch the installer for this malicious software.  If this happens, cancel the installation process; do not enter your administrator password.  Delete the installer immediately using the steps below.

1. Go into the Downloads folder or your preferred download location.
2. Drag the installer to the Trash. 
3. Empty the Trash.

To actually remove it once it's been installed:

▪ Move or close the Scan Window
▪ Go to the Utilities folder in the Applications folder and launch Activity Monitor  
▪ Choose All Processes from the pop up menu in the upper right corner of the window
▪ Under the Process Name column, look for the name of the app and click to select it; common app names include: MacDefender, MacSecurity or MacProtector
▪ Click the Quit Process button in the upper left corner of the window and select Quit
▪ Quit Activity Monitor application
▪ Open the Applications folder
▪ Locate the app ex. MacDefender, MacSecurity, MacProtector or other name
▪ Drag to Trash, and empty Trash

Apple says the malware also installs a login item in your account in System Preferences, which you can remove by opening System Preferences, going to Accounts, and Login items, selecting the name of the app you removed, and clicking the minus button. Removal of this isn't necessary, the company says.

The OS update aspect of this is a pretty helpful move on Apple's part. It will be interesting to see if the company addresses similar issues this way more often going forward.

We also have to wonder if the Mac OS, which has presented far fewer security issues than Windows over the years, will begin seeing a greater amount of threats.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.