Be careful out there – there is malware about

People new to the Mac often ask about how to protect their computer from malware and viruses. The ‘bad stuff’ hasn’t traditionally been a problem on Macs, though many of us have warned that things could change at any time.

Mainly we long-time users say not to bother installing any anti-malware software and that word will soon come out if there is anything to worry about.

Leopard at Wellington Zoo.

Leopard at Wellington Zoo.

Well, today we have word of a couple of things to be aware of.

The MAC Defender Trojan

Macworld reports on a new piece of malware for Macs:

… a Trojan horse by the name of MAC Defender … users looking for legitimate protection against viruses on their Macs might be duped into downloading and installing MAC Defender instead.

… As nefarious as MAC Defender might be, the level of concern over infection remains low: Users must be tricked into downloading and installing the program, as well as entering their administrator password.

[Via New Mac Trojan horse masquerades as virus scanner | Antivirus & Security | MacUser | Macworld.]

The Weyland-Yutani BOT crimekit

There is additional sensible commentary from TidBITS, talking about the new “Weyland-Yutani BOT”:

The Danish security firm CSIS is reporting that they have uncovered evidence of a new “crimekit” called “Weyland-Yutani BOT” that criminals can use to make malware designed to steal information and access credentials (such as for online banking sites).

…What does this mean for normal Mac users? For the moment, only that you really do want to stay up to date with security updates to Mac OS X and Web browsers. If Weyland-Yutani were to become popular with criminals, the anti-malware market on the Mac would certainly heat up.

But for the moment, just be sure to install security updates, be careful opening email attachments that could contain code, and stay away from dodgy Web sites pushing pirated software, gambling, and porn. Oh, and keep reading TidBITS for news of changes in the security landscape. In other words, use your common sense, since the Internet simply isn’t an entirely safe place and hasn’t been for years.

[Via TidBITS Safe Computing: Macs Targeted by New “Crimekit”.]

Update 01 June 2011: Apple have issued a Security Update to help protect against this malware; make sure you install it:

Security Update 2011-003 provides additional protection by checking for the MacDefender malware and its known variants. If MacDefender malware is found, the system will quit this malware, delete any persistent files, and correct any modifications made to configuration or login files. After MacDefender is identified and removed, the message below will be displayed the next time an administrator account logs in.

[Via Mac OS X Snow Leopard and malware detection.]

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