Here’s why Apple Support shouldn’t be helping people clear their Mac Defender Malware off their system
ZDNet’s Ed Bott (of the Microsoft Report) appears to be really pushing this Mac Defender Malware thing – doing his best to make sure the press goes nuts and blows the story out of proportion. His latest article, “Apple to support Reps: “Do Not attempt to remove malware“, aside from being link bait, appears to be missing the point. According to a recently leaked memo (below), Apple has told its AppleCare employees to not assist in removing the newly released Mac Defender/ Mac Security Malware if customers call or show up with an infected system.
Bott seems incredulous, and makes the point that Microsoft has a page set up with helpful links on their site to aid users in removing viruses and spyware, as well as links to buying Anit-virus software. So do Dell and HP, who have Anti-virus service plans service plans ranging in price from $10 per month, to $229 per incident. In fact, despite Dell’s computers barely costing $229 for the entire computer, Bott applauds all three companies for the serious way they are handling this virus/spyware/malware situation on the Windows side of things, and he just can’t understand how Apple support can be so callous when it comes to security.
Well, here’s what Mr. Bott is choosing to ignore in order to make his article sound reasonable. As of 2008, Symantec estimated that there were over ONE MILLION malicious pieces of code (Viruses, malware, spyware) able to attack a Windows machine. Right now we have only one and a half pieces of malware on the Mac. I say “one and a half” in that Mac Defender is apparently just a slight variation on the Mac Security piece of Malware found a week earlier. But let’s round up and say there are TWO pieces of Malware in the wild able to harm the average Mac user, and 1 million for the PC user (and that’s using 3 yr old estimates on the PC side of things).
The problem here is, this malware is NOT a virus, and is NOT a threat to most people. In order for it to do any damage, you first must search for Mac anti-virus software (something you don’t yet need to do), visit a “malicious website” claiming to have a no-name brand of virus protection called Mac Defender, download that fake virus protection software that you do not need (oh the irony), then run the installer, then give it your admin password. There are also reports of the Malware “auto downloading” and auto opening an installer while a user simply browses the web. In this case the installer STILL prompts you for your password, and honestly, if you are browsing the web and suddenly see a file download and an anti virus installer pop up asking you for your password, if you go ahead and give it your password, then you are so tech UNsavvy that it was only a matter of time before you got infected with SOMETHING. Better to get it over with now and hopefully learn a lesson. In other words, you almost have to WANT this Malware to infect your system in order to get it to do so. While it would be nice if Apple felt like creating a 24-hour Mac virus support center somewhere in India to handle the “flood” of Mac virus support calls that must be coming in, somehow I think the MayTag repair man would be busier than the poor sole who had to man that phone.
While given the Mac’s recent marketshare growth, I have no doubts we will see an eventual rise in malware on the Mac. However, this is hardly a case of a scared-shitless Mac community being nonchalantly dismissed by Apple. And for the 5 people who might actually HAVE the Mac Defender Malware, since you obviously know how to use the internet, try visiting a site called “Google.com” and typing in “How to remove the Mac Defender Malware”. I think you’ll find that, like all things on the Mac, even removing Malware is easier than on the PC.