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Beware this scam that targets Mac users | July 2018

I had a client phone me last Friday afternoon to ask me if buying AppleCare was a good idea. This is how the conservation went…..

Darrin - “Why yes [client name], purchasing AppleCare within the first year of your Mac's life will extend its warranty for a total of three years.”

Client - “That’s what I thought Darrin, it’s just that I got a chap on the other line from Apple who wants me to buy AppleCare because he says they have identified viruses on my Mac. I am just about to press the button to purchase it online”

Darrin - “Hang on a second [client name], are you saying that someone from Apple phoned you to sell you AppleCare?”

Client - “Yes Darrin”

Darrin - “Any does he have remote control of your screen [client name]?”

Client - “Yes”

Darrin - “And has he seen you enter your bank card details into the screen”

Client - “Yes”

Darrin - “[client name] hang up on him and phone your bank NOW”

I have a lot of respect for this client who has been a successful business owner for decades but if this scam was sophisticated enough to hoodwink him, I am sure there are hundreds of victims of this scam every month. Don’t make yourself one of them!

From what I can tell, my client picked up some malware which both slowed his Mac down and then started randomly throwing up messages in Safari that his Mac has been infected with a virus and he should buy AppleCare. With a poor performing Mac and the offer of assistance from Apple, you'd be inclined to accept.  I haven’t yet established how the scammer was able to get hold of my clients phone number to initiate the scam, maybe he was encouraged to fill out a contact form. Thankfully, my client used his common sense and phoned me before it was too late.

The good news is that my client was able to cancel his credit card within minutes of our conversation so no fraud was committed.  I then talked him through the installation of Intego VirusBarrier on his Mac and got him to do a full scan for viruses. He came back to me 5 hours later with the results of the scan: 80 incidents of malware found.  Again, I repeat how diligent I considered this client with his affairs, so I was surprised with this number of infections.

I conclude as Mac users we can no longer be apathetic about malware, viruses and our internet security or else suffer the consequences. Mac malware already causes hours of lost time during due to slowness and at worse could result in a significant financial loss.

How can you prevent something similar happening to you?
1. Use your common sense. No credible IT company will phone you out of the blue to warn you about viruses on your Mac.
2. In a networked, business environment seriously consider a UTM (see previous article). This will protect all devices within your network from internet threats.
3. In smaller installations purchase commercial anti-malware software (see previous article) such a Bitdefender for Mac or Intego Virus Barrier. Particularly important for Mac laptops that may be behind a UTM during business hours but used at home outside of business hours.
4. In an ideal world have two layers of protection - a UTM and anti-malware software installed. (This is how Dejac's network and devices are protected.)

Dejac Associates can help you secure your network and devices from such threats. Please get in touch to arrange a consultation.

Darrin