PCs

Does scareware for the Mac bring equality to the OS?

Macintosh users, welcome to the Internet! The plague of scareware for the PC has reached out to Mac users.

Macintosh users, welcome to the Internet! The plague of scareware for the PC has reached out to Mac users.

From PC World:

Visitors to the Web site selling the program, called MacSweeper, are offered a free security scan of their computers. The scan, which only works on Macs, highlights supposed security problems with the computers. It offers to remove the problems with the purchase of a US$39.99 lifetime subscription.

Windows users have been targeted in the past with various kinds of scareware, generally getting a dialog that warns that their computer is at high risk. Some of the more recognizable names are Winfixer, also known as ErrorSafe, WinAntiVirus, and Drive Cleaner.

The MacSweeper Web page is hosted on a server in Kiev, Ukraine, said Patrik Runald, security response manager for F-Secure, who is based in Malaysia. Information on the site about MacSweeper's company, Kiwi Software, has been plagiarized from Symantec's Web page, Runald said.

"They just ripped that information straight off there," Runald said.

The same text is also used on Cleanator.com, which sells a Windows-compatible version of the same kind of program, Runald said. Another security vendor, Sophos, classifies Cleanator as a "potentially unwanted program."

Mac users on this forum were both confused and surprised that their OS could be targeted like this. But this is nothing new to millions of PC users.

What do you think? Are Mac users being unfairly targeted? Or is this just part of being connected?

Additional information:

Scareware Program Targets Mac Users (Washingtonpost.com)

17 comments
deepsand
deepsand

The only wonder here is that it took so long.

cathar.gnostic
cathar.gnostic

It has nothing to do with any OS, it's just another form of social engineering. The software in peoples brain seem to be the biggest problem.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

A lot of these programs could be in the CPU.The hackers are always in your CPU triggering this and that.When your computer boots all of these programs start up.

seanferd
seanferd

that with the government torrent and all, the hackers wouldn't have any room in there left to play around. Learn something new every day, I guess.

meryllogue
meryllogue

I had forgotten about you and your random offerings. Nice, Balthor! :-))

JamesRL
JamesRL

I encountered my first Mac virus (actually a trojan) on April 1,1987. It was the "world message of peace" trojan. It ran at noon local time on infected Macs. Unfortunately it didn't cleanly exit and crashed the Macs (I was in a rent a mac service location). There have been other viruses on the Mac over the years, just not as many as PC. One virus, the MS Office macro virus affected both Macs and PCs. James

deity_chooch
deity_chooch

I don't see a problem with Internet security programs being released for the Mac at all. An old proverb goes "Better safe than sorry," and this is a prime example. Macs don't have near the amount of viruses that are geared toward PCs, but to assume that _because_ you have a Mac you can't get a virus is simple ignorance. Then again, I'd think that a free anti-virus such as clamav would run on Mac. Maybe someone should spread the word?

seanferd
seanferd

Nothing wrong with real security software, for the most part. Even some "legitimate" vendors, however, like to use scare tactics rather than simply informing users and offering products. It's a type of marketing mentality. The illegitimate offerings, however, depend almost entirely on the "scare" bit. Malware distributers (the fake security vendors type) depend almost entirely on this tactic.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

How it's marketed may be another thing all together but anti-malware for any OS is important so osX joining the modern world of networking can't be bad for the end user. They should run much faster too since the current library of signatures is rather short for it. My ownly issue with the mentioned program is the protection racket sales pitch; (with jowls and mumbled voice) "It seems we have detected a number of,.. security issues. We can help you,.. take care, of these issues for you for a price.." :) Hehe.. anyhow, I'll be running it against the osX machine at home to see what it's calling issues. I still gotta try it, even if it's not going to compel me to open my wallet.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I have a few VM I'll have to try throughing at it and let you know where it chokes. (rumour has it that parrillels can run an osX VM soon?) ha.. good on the researchers. AV for osX is one thing but this sounds the emperor's new cloths.

Tig2
Tig2

From what I have been able to find out, it seems to install something that re-directs your machine back to itself. If you want to have some fun, take a Windows or Linux machine to that site and run the scan. It says that it won't run, can't run on anything other than a Mac, but researchers ran the scan against a Windows box and were presented with a neat list of all the OS X oriented things that were wrong. I brought the story out because this is the first "scareware" I have found for the Mac. Mac users, beware- we are definitely on the radar.

jlexster
jlexster

I say it's about time that Mac users are thrown off of their high horse, thinking they could never get viruses or scams thrown at them :P

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In the windows world, these scare scams are one of the most efficient ways to discreded your product. There are some worthwhile remote scanners like the few virus scanners that can be run from the developer's website but those actually *do* something behind displaying some scary bullet points while asking for your wallet. I think it definately going to scare some Apple fans back to reality but the more rational users of any software technology realize that all software is buggy math written but us most arrogant fo the ape family. In my view, someone saw an opertunity for an overlooked market and jumped on it. The business management types should be as impressed as they are with Microsoft's business model but as a tech type concerned with the end user's well being; not impressed, please call back when there's a real threat rather than a threat alert colour.

Tig2
Tig2

What do you think? Are Mac users being unfairly targeted? Or is this just part of being connected?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

People have been targeting Windows users with this stuff forever. It targets the vulnerability of the user in this case, not the Mac. Mac has vulnerabilities, they're just not as publicized or criticized as Windows vulnerabilities (and subsequent fixes). It's just a matter of time before Macs are targeted by these guys more and more since the Mac market is growing slightly. It's not that Mac users are unfairly targeted, it's the fact that they are becoming a bigger target. Spam/spyware/scareware/virii are all big business and target whatever is most readily available...any OS that will have 1000's of users out there will be a target. People don't target Linux because there are so many distributions...the easier course is to target things they would have in common, which has been done with Firefox or Opera. Bad people will always want to accomplish bad things...no one will be spared from these tactics.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The social engineering of the scareware pitch is definately a human target but the first viruses where on Unix. I still believe that the aproach to BSD and other *nix where a virus is simply a proof of concept for a bug to be corrected. Even if something get's in, it's limited in what it can damage. In the case of osX, unless Apple has screwed up the BSD natural security, the user only sees and configures the icing on top. That should continue to limit the ways in which osX users can have there machine jacked (ie. attack vectors).

Editor's Picks