Apple Security Update Works Against MacDefender, So Does Sophos

Apple’s new security feature which daily updates the built-in security virus and malware definitions list in the background works as planned when dealing with the MacDefender threat. Apple no longer updates the list via Software Update, but instead silently in the background as soon as it is available and your computer is online.

As a review, MacDefender and many variants have hit the supposedly virus-free world of Mac recently with a lot of attention. Apple acted relatively quickly and offered an update that was designed to deal with the problem. Then, within hours of the update the MacDefender makers created a new version that supposedly got around this update. The ball was in Apple’s court.

Today, Apple’s daily virus definitions update includes the new variant making your MacBooks and other OS X computers safe once again, for now. We wonder how long before someone begins a betting pool for predictions on how long each side takes to respond to the other. This is a back and forth fight which we hope Apple never gives up.

The good news is Apple is aggressively working to protect its reputation of being a safe platform. The bad news is that it is not as safe as it used to be and Mac security software is now as necessary as Windows security software has been for years. We have a comprehensive list of free and paid Mac security software programs available.

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Right now we are using Sophos, which scanned our system and found the version that we intentionally downloaded yesterday to test out how good the new Mac update worked. We deleted it without installing the malware but not before Time Machine made a backup copy. Sophos found the files in the Time Machine backups folder on the external drive and pointed us to the file. Because it was in a Time Machine backup it would not automatically delete the file. It identified which backup was infected and we deleted that folder from the Time Machine backup folder on the external drive. Our MacBook Pro is clean again.

Sophos did its job in the first hour after installing it this morning. Having that bad file in a backup was a minor problem but it is nice to know that the Sophos software is up-to-date enough to find the threat.

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