Windows users have long been used to popups which suddenly appear while browsing online, that claim their machine is infected by malware and they need to download a special application to clean said malware. Now, it looks as if Mac users are about to get their first taste of such “scareware”.
MacSweeper, an application sold via the Internet for US$ 39.95, is similar to Windows scareware which claims to find security vulnerabilities to fix or malware to clean … as long as you purchase the application, according to Patrick Runald, who is affiliated with the well-known security application developer, F-Secure.
F-Secure claims that the fact that the free scan offered by the MacSweeper site finds folders and files on PCs that only exist on Macs as compelling evidence that this is a scam. F-Secure also points at direct lifting of content from the website of Symantec, another well-known anti-virus vendor, by the MacSweeper people as further evidence of the fact that all is not kosher.
The MacSweeper developers have responded to these allegations by saying that the selling tactics were the fault of their “partners” and that the application was legitimate.
It is to be noted that the appearance of this scareware does not mean that the Mac is any less secure now. Rather, it demonstrates that the increased popularity and visibility of the Mac is making it a target of scammers who previously concentrated mostly on Windows users.