Apple tells support staff not to confirm Mac Defender infections

The AppleCare support service has been ordered not to confirm whether customer's computers are infected by the Mac Defender malware, which Apple is currently investigating.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films | TV | Movies | Television | Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

Apple's support service, AppleCare, has been instructed to take a hands-off approach to customers calling about the Mac Defender malware. Staff are under strict instructions not to confirm or deny any infection by the malicious software, which Apple is currently investigating.

Support staff have also been told they shouldn't attempt to remove the malware. They're not to refer you any further and shouldn't send you to an Apple Store, which wouldn't be able to help anyway. They've also been instructed to refer you to the Mac App Store but not make any suggestions about which antivirus software to download from there.

Mac Defender is a piece of software that tricks its way to the top of antivirus search results, and downloads itself automatically. If software ever starts trying to install itself, click cancel on the installation screen sharpish.

Once installed, the software creates a fake virus alert and randomly opens porn sites, duping you into paying up. If you do pay, the software stops giving you fake alerts and opening porn, so it appears to have taken care of the virus. What a dastardly ruse!

The sketchy software goes by many names, including Mac Protector and Mac Security.

Our business-minded muckers over at ZDNet.com have compared Apple's approach with the antivirus support provided by other computing giants. Microsoft, for example, offers 24-hour support for virus problems, but, then again, Windows is much more commonly targeted by nefarious ne'er-do-wells.

Fortunately, dealing with the problem doesn't require any specialist help. To protect yourself, Mac users, don't install the software in the first place. If you have installed it, don't pay anything, and uninstall the software as soon as you can.