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Apple admits scareware problem, at last

Says up to 125,000 customers contacted it with 'malware-like' problems

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Apple has finally held its hands up and admitted that the MacDefender scareware package might be a problem, abandoning the line that support workers must on no account suggest to users that their machine might be infected with malware.

Contrary to this (unsustainable) line, Apple has now published an advisory explaining how to avoid or remove the threat. Apple is promising to remove the threat with a forthcoming update. In the meantime, the fruity one has supplied detailed removal instructions.

Fake anti-virus (scareware) packages falsely warn users that their machines are drilled with malicious software in a bid to con users into buying software of little or no utility. The approach relies on scaring people into buying useless products, not on underlying software vulnerabilities, and therefore works as easily on Mac fans as Windows users.

Apple's support centres sources told ZDnet that anywhere between 60,000 and 125,000 customers had contacted the facility with malware-like problems. That figure sounds high but, since staff were actively discouraged from helping customers to diagnose the problem, we'll never know how accurate the figure might be. If nothing else the incident illustrates that although the vast majority of malware strains affect Windows, other platforms are not immune to malicious software. ®

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