How to remove MacDefender malware

Apple releases instructions for removing MacDefender fake antivirus software

Apple has released instructions for removing MacDefender malware from Mac OS X systems. MacDefender poses as security software but, Apple warns in its support document, its aim is to capture users' credit card details.

Mac Defender's creators use 'black hat' search-engine optimisation techniques to get malicious sites placed near the top of search engine results. Users who clicked on a relevant link were sent to a website where JavaScript automatically downloaded the malware, which poses as antivirus software.

"This application is very well designed, and looks professional," note researchers for security firm Intego, which first publicised the threat. "There are a number of different screens, and the grammar and spelling are correct, the buttons are attractive, and the overall look and feel of the program give it a professional look. It will occasionally display alerts, telling users that viruses are found."

Apple's support instructions say the company will release a Mac OS X update in "the coming days" that will "automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants".

Additional reporting: Jeff Bertolucci, PC World US; John E Dunn, Techworld.

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