Apple: How to avoid or remove MACDefender malware (permanent fix coming in Mac OS X update)

Apple has published KnowledgeBase article HT4650, “How to avoid or remove Mac Defender malware,” which states:

A recent phishing scam has targeted Mac users by redirecting them from legitimate websites to fake websites which tell them that their computer is infected with a virus. The user is then offered Mac Defender “anti-virus” software to solve the issue.

This “anti-virus” software is malware (i.e. malicious software). Its ultimate goal is to get the user’s credit card information which may be used for fraudulent purposes.

The most common names for this malware are MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity.

In the coming days, Apple will deliver a Mac OS X software update that will automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants. The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware.

In the meantime, the Resolution section below provides step-by-step instructions on how to avoid or manually remove this malware.

Products Affected
Mac OS X 10.4, Mac OS X 10.6, Mac OS X 10.5

How to avoid installing this malware

If any notifications about viruses or security software appear, quit Safari or any other browser that you are using. If a normal attempt at quitting the browser doesn’t work, then Force Quit the browser.

In some cases, your browser may automatically download and launch the installer for this malicious software. If this happens, cancel the installation process; do not enter your administrator password. Delete the installer immediately using the steps below.

1. Go into the Downloads folder or your preferred download location.
2. Drag the installer to the Trash.
3. Empty the Trash.

How to remove this malware

If the malware has been installed, we recommend the following actions:
• Do not provide your credit card information under any circumstances.
• Use the Removal Steps below.

Removal steps
• Move or close the Scan Window
• Go to the Utilities folder in the Applications folder and launch Activity Monitor
• Choose All Processes from the pop up menu in the upper right corner of the window
• Under the Process Name column, look for the name of the app and click to select it; common app names include: MacDefender, MacSecurity or MacProtector
• Click the Quit Process button in the upper left corner of the window and select Quit
• Quit Activity Monitor application
• Open the Applications folder
• Locate the app ex. MacDefender, MacSecurity, MacProtector or other name
• Drag to Trash, and empty Trash

Malware also installs a login item in your account in System Preferences. Removal of the login item is not necessary, but you can remove it by following the steps below.
• Open System Preferences, select Accounts, then Login Items
• Select the name of the app you removed in the steps above ex. MacDefender, MacSecurity, MacProtector
• Click the minus button

Use the steps in the “How to avoid installing this malware” section above to remove the installer from the download location.

More info here.

Related articles:
MACDefender trojan protection and removal guide – May 20, 2011
Apple investigating ‘MACDefender’ trojan – May 19, 2011
Is Mac under a virus attack? No. – May 4, 2011
Intego: MACDefender rogue anti-malware program attacks Macs via SEO poisoning – May 2, 2011


  1. Let us get one thing straight: on Windows platform today, there are hardly any new viruses anymore. The old ones have long been identified and eliminated. The only kind of malware that Windows receives today is the same kind as Mad Defender: trojans that user downloads (willingly or unwittingly) and runs. At this point, the only difference is in volume (1 for Mac, vs. dozens of new ones daily for Windows).

  2. OK…… odd advertisement to go with this article next to the text in the square at top, says “Speed up and clean your PC – start here. DOWNLOAD” ; ) heeh.

    1. Pretty much gotta agree.

      Whatever happened to the good old days of Code Red and SQL Slammer that took down entire corporate networks and brought the internet to its knees? Lol

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