Beware of malware even as Mac Defender details emerge

There's evidence the Apple scare over malware may not be over

Apple users are getting new details about one malware scare, but should be careful not to fall victim to another that may be lurking.

Security researcher Brian Krebs has tied the fake anti-virus software for Apple computers known as Mac Defender to an executive of ChronoPay, Russia's largest online payment processor.

There's evidence the Apple scare over malware -- software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems -- may not be over.

Apple users should keep an eye out for MacGuard, another piece of malware disguised as anti-virus software that, unlike Mac Defender, does not require an administrator password to install on your machine. Security firm Intego says MacGuard was created by the parties responsible for Mac Defender.

ChronoPay has also been linked with many other nefarious activities, including last year's BitTorrent scam that led downloaders to believe the RIAA and the MPAA were privy to their file sharing and wanted cash to make the problem go away.

The truth behind the Mac Defender malware scare was cracked through some old-fashioned cybersleuthing.

Krebs did a WHOIS search of the domains -- mac-defence.com and macbookprotection.com --that victims of Mac Defender were sent to in order to pay for the phony anti-virus software. Both domains were associated with an email address associated with ChronoPay's financial controller.

A leak of ChronoPay's internal documents last year, caught by Krebs, provided further ties between the Russian online payment firm and the malware, which may be hiding under different aliases, including MacDefender, MacProtector, MacSecurity and Apple Security Center, according to eWeek. The documents have also signaled that two new domains -- appledefence.com and appleprodefence.com -- were registered on May 20 to ChronoPay, evidence that the Mac Defender malware, which started its Apple-unfriendly onslaught on May 2, isn't finished yet.

Apple has released an official note on its help forums with instructions on how to avoid or remove the Mac Defender malware. Apple also promised an upcoming security update to OSX that should help eliminate the threat.

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Brennon Slattery

PC World (US online)
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