Apple warns Mac users as virus appears

APPLE is fighting what security experts warned yesterday may be the most pernicious types of computer virus to ever target its line of Mac computers.

The company was forced to issue a security advisory warning to customers about a recent scam that infects Macs with malicious software that wrongly tells them their computer is infected with a virus. The ultimate goal is to get credit card numbers and other valuable personal information.

It is one of the first major campaigns that cyber crooks have launched against Mac users. To date, criminals have focused on writing malicious software for machines running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which inhabits more than nine of every 10 personal computers.

But as Macs have grown in number, they have become more attractive targets.

The fake anti-virus malware is downloaded when people click on links from tainted search engine results for popular queries, according to anti-virus software maker McAfee. It also spreads when users click on links to malicious sites that might be included in emails, Tweets or Facebook messages.

Apple said it will issue an update for its Mac operating system “in the coming days” that will automatically find and remove malicious fake anti-virus software. It will also warn Mac users when they download such programmes.

In the meantime, Apple has issued advice on how users can clean up machines that have been infected by the malicious software, which goes by names including MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity.

It said any web page that looks like a Finder window that claims to be scanning your Mac is fake and users who see these pages should quit their browser right away and clear any downloads.

The company advised that users should turn off the “Open ‘safe’ files” option in their Safari browsers general preferences to keep the file from opening automatically if it is accidentally downloaded, it said yesterday.