While security researchers and hackers have warned for years that Mac OS X is susceptible to viruses, Mac owners have generally shrugged them off, and they've had the external feedback to support them: Theoretical possibility does not equal real-world probability, and the odds of getting a virus on a Mac have been remote. It's too early to say whether that is about to change in any significant way, but we've recently reported on a malware program called Mac Defender which poses as an antivirus program and steals users' credit card information, and which has been spotted in the wild. Earlier this month, Daring Fireball's John Gruber prominently accused journalists writing about the Mac platform's vulnerability of "crying wolf." However, in a recent interview with an anonymous AppleCare employee, ZDNet's Ed Bott [who, it's worth noting, is one of the journalists Gruber calls out individually] reports that Mac malware is on the rise in real-world situations, and, perhaps more significantly for the future than for the present, AppleCare does not cover malware and virus protection, and AppleCare employees are specifically instructed not to help customers remove malicious programs, and they could even potentially be fired if they do.
Need proof that Mac is catching up to Windows in a big way? Security firm Intego reports that it has recently observed in the wild a malicious, fake 'antivirus' app appearing on computers running Apple's Mac OS X operating system. Windows, of course, has been host to such programs for about as long as the Internet has existed. Apple's fake, malicious antivirus program has a much slicker interface, though. Called "MAC Defender," the app functions similarly to comparable PC scam programs: It claims that the user's computer has been infected with viruses and asks the user to pay for the program via credit card. Protip: Don't provide your credit card number to MAC Defender.
Intego notes that the application is visually well designed and doesn't have numerous misspellings or other errors common to such malware on Windows, though it does seem to contain some sketchy grammar. The software will periodically display Growl alerts that various fake malware has been detected, and also periodically opens porn websites in the default browser, perhaps leading a user to believe the detected malware "threats" are real. Users are then directed to an insecure website to pay for a license and "clean" the malware infections. However, buying the license merely stops the fake alerts from popping up, but your money and credit card info is now in the hands of hackers.Remember: The notion that Macs can't get viruses or malware is a myth. (Intego via Ars)