MacDefender scam is just that

A lot of sites have been riled up this week over the MacDefender scam. And that’s all it is, a scam. What this app does is download itself automatically into your downloads folder when you visit certain infected websites. From that point, it just sits there in your downloads folder. I know, scary, right? The app is completely powerless to do anything to your computer at all. What it relies on is people being naïve enough to click the installer, open it, and then give it their administrator username and password information. They then need to watch it install itself onto their computer, and then be naïve enough to open it. After opening the app, the person also needs to be naïve enough to give them their credit card number, address, and billing information to register an app that they did not ask for or intentionally download. After all this, you should be laughing by now.

However, thousands of people aren’t. This is because they actually opened the app file, installed it, gave it their administrator credentials, and then gave it their credit card information. Please don’t become one of these people. If you see an app installer show up in your downloads folder that says anything about “MacDefender,” “Security,” or “Antivirus,” simply delete it and you’ll be just fine. If you are one of these people, TUAW has a complete guide to removing the app from your system. While you’re at it, go into Safari’s preferences and tell it not to open “safe” files. Good luck, and don’t let it happen again, okay?

This app is absolutely not classified as a virus. It has no power whatsoever over your Mac, and does nothing. It has no spreading mechanism at all, so it is not contagious in any way. It’s completely powerless. It cannot even install itself. It relies entirely on people being ignorant enough to download it, install it willingly, and then volunteer to give it their credit card information. This amounts to nothing better than a simple Craigslist scam. So, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just exercise some good old-fashioned discretion and common sense, and you’ll be just fine.

Photo Credit: @j_holtslander

Justin Lowery has been reading and writing about Macs and technology for nearly a decade. By day he is a web and graphic designer who creates powerful and beautiful solutions for companies and individuals worldwide. By night he writes passionately… Full Bio