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1/15/2008
01:58 PM
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Mac Users Targeted By 'Scareware' Fraud Application

MacSweeper claims to find fictitious malware and then tries to trick the user into purchasing unnecessary and fraudulent anti-malware software or services.

Just in time for the Macworld Conference, Mac users now have their very own "scareware" application.

F-Secure, a security company based in Finland, has identified a rogue software application for the Mac called MacSweeper.

Scareware is a term for applications that find fictitious malware on a user's computer and then try to trick the user into purchasing unnecessary and fraudulent anti-malware software or services. Scareware relies on social engineering to deceive, like many phishing attacks and other forms of malware.

Windows users have had to contend with phony anti-malware programs like WinFixer and SpySheriff for years. F-Secure says MacSweeper is the first scareware for Macs.

"So what does the first Mac rogue application really mean?" mused Patrik Runald, senior security specialist at F-Secure, in a blog post. "It means that with Mac's growing popularity and growing user base comes certain problems that can't be ignored. Mac users will increasingly come under attack from bad guys, and this new rogue application and the constant stream of new variants of DNSChanger is proof of that. It doesn't mean that Mac is becoming less secure in and of itself. But it does mean that Mac users will have to watch out for social engineering tricks just like Windows users have had to do for years."

Sunbelt Software security researchers Patrick Jordan and Adam Thomas last week warned of the appearance of yet another version of Trojan.DNSChanger that attempts to dupe Web site visitors into installing a purported media codec to enable video viewing.

And US CERT last week warned about the appearance of a phony iPhone update called "iPhone firmware 1.1.3 prep."

At the Macworld Conference on Tuesday in San Francisco, Apple announced the real iPhone software update 1.1.3. It features a new location-aware Maps application, among other additions.

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