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Oh My Tech: Surprise! Mac users can get viruses, too
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"How do I get rid of this freakin' Mac Defender virus??" — Mac users who once thought they would never get a virus because they own a Mac.

OK, so I really created this question, but it represents the frustration of a lot of Mac users lately who have been subjected to a new trojan called "Mac Defender," which has been making the rounds the past couple of weeks. (And you Mac users thought you would never get a virus because you think you're special. Well, consider this the end of your innocence.)

It's considered one of the first, if not the first, virus or malware to hit Mac computers on a widespread scale. It's not a particularly harmful trojan once it gets into your computer. It doesn't infect anything, and it doesn't mess with your computer. But it is dangerous because it can cost you money and steal your credit card number if you let it. Here's how it works:

You can encounter it when you do a Google search for anti-virus software. Upon clicking a site, you might get a pop-up window warning you that your computer has been infected with malware, and an animation is launched that looks like a scan is being performed.

It then implores you to download anti-malware software, and it might even pop up windows from pornographic sites to show you how much you need it. After downloading it, your browser might automatically install it depending how you have it set. It then will ask you to buy the so-called anti-virus software, prompting you for your credit card number. Only there is no software, your credit card number has just been compromised and you just paid $60 for nothing.

If you think you've gotten this trojan on a Mac, here's how you can get rid of it.

It runs in the background, so the first thing you need to do is shut it off. From the desktop, click on "Go," then "Utilities." Click on the "Activity Monitor" icon, which lists all active programs running on your Mac. Then click on "MacDefender" in the list and then the "Quit Process" button to quit the program.

Then go to the desktop, click on "Go" in the top menu, then "Applications." Look for the "Mac Defender" icon/program and drag it to the trash. Good riddance!

Finally, go to the Apple menu, click on "System Preferences," then the "Accounts" icon. In the list of programs to the right, highlight "MacDefender" then click the minus button below to delete it. You're done!

For one more security measure, go to the preferences or settings for your browser and tell it to not automatically open files it downloads. Instead, have any files you download saved to the hard drive first so you can decide whether you should open them manually.

If you have a tech question, email it to Vince at ohmytech@sltrib.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ohmytech.

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