MACDefender – The new hoax anti-virus for Mac

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This post has been updated with new information.

You may have seen it on the internet or you may even have MACDefender on your computer right now. It’s a new trojan coming to a Mac near you. The trojan appears to be an anti-virus pretending to find viruses on your Mac. The solution to remove those “viruses”? Enter your credit card information, pay a huge fee and the viruses will magically be removed.

According to an AppleCare support representative (via ZDNet), the MACDefender problem is getting worse, “we have had nothing but Mac Defender and similar calls” with “frustrated Mac users think their Mac is impervious to viruses and think this is a real warning from Apple.”. AppleCare support representatives have been told by Apple executives to not help users with removing the Malware, even though it is extremely easy to remove. However, Apple are recommending to customers to install anti-virus software for their computers. Some examples are Norton or Sophos.

How to remove MACDefender

Removing MACDefender is extremely easy and can be done in two ways. The first way, you can install the free Mac anti-virus from Sophos. Available here. It will do a scan of your computer and remove MACDefender. However, you can manually remove MACDefender:

  1. Open Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor and “Force Quit” any processes with MACDefender in the name.
  2. Delete MACDefender application from the Applications folder.
  3. Check System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items for the MACDefender application. Remove it to make sure it doesn’t start when you login.
  4. Do a quick spotlight search of MACDefender and delete any items that you may think are left overs of MACDefender

Protecting against this in the future

Soon the Mac virus problem will get worse and become like the Windows virus problem. However, you can get protected early to ensure you don’t get any of these nasties. A free solution to this is downloading Sophos Free Anti-Virus for Mac. This is a totally free solution that will protect your computer from future viruses. There are other paid solutions like Norton or McAfee you can try too.

UPDATE (James Wilson, 17:38 AEST): If you have been infected by the “Mac Defender” hardware, you can visit a new Apple Support Document How to avoid or remove Mac Defender Malware. A Software Update will be released soon that will detect when you download the virus and try to run it and remove any existing infections.