Beware MacDefender

Remember those tiresome 'Mac vs PC' ads? With David Mitchell playing a nerdy PC and Robert Webb a tiresomely young and laid-back Mac git? One of their most objectionable aspects was the way they bragged about the lack of Mac viruses and 'malware' as a plus of the operating system. Actually, it's just a side-effect of Mac's minority status in the market - as a rule, makers of viruses and malware have gone for Windows as it's far more popular. Mac OS X isn't really any more secure than Windows, and Apple's come-here-it's-safe advertising lulls users into a false sense of security so when a piece of Mac malware does come along, folks fall right for it.

Which is what has just happened. Over the last week or so, a piece of software has begun popping up on Macs called 'MacDefender,' telling users they need to be protected against viruses (true) and that it's the most sophisticated antivirus software available (very, very much untrue).

In fact, MacDefender is total malware which just wants you to give it your credit card details. DO NOT install! ZDNEt estimates anything up to 120,000 Mac users could have been affected by the malware. After a week, Apple has acknowledged the problem and say they'll release a free update to Mac OS in the next few days that will block the rogue software.

Is this a glimpse of the future as Mac OS grows in popularity?

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