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BBB warns Macs are no longer safe from viruses

Rachel Garceau

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BBB warns Macs are no longer safe from viruses

CREATED Aug. 5, 2013

If you think your Apple computer or device is immune to a virus, think again. A new version of a common computer virus is now targeting Mac users. It's a real-looking pop-up window that poses as the FBI and tries to extort hundreds of dollars from victims. Better Business Bureau's Dale Dixon joined Good Morning Idaho to talk about the virus.

Here's how the scam works: You are surfing the Internet, and a window pops up. It appears to  be from the FBI accusing you of violating the law and, as a result, locking your computer. The message says you need to pay a $200 (or more) fine with prepaid money card.  Do so, the message says, and you will get the code to unlock your machine.  The warning looks real.  It uses legal language, bears the FBI seal and has "" in the URL. When you try to close your web browser, it only causes more windows with warning messages to appear.

Despite its official appearance, the pop-up is a scam. Like other malware, it is installed on your computer when you open a malicious attachment, click on a link in an email or visit a scam website. It is later triggered by searching for certain terms. The "ransomware" virus preys on users' anxiety about viewing common, but illegal or unsavory, online content, such as pirated videos or pornography.   The virus has been fooling PC users since spring 2012. But the newest version is targeting OS X Mac users.

If you have received such a pop up, do not follow payment instructions.  Instead, file a complaint with the FBI.  As always, make sure your computer's operating system and browser are up to date with the latest security protections. And run a virus scam if you may have downloaded anything suspicious.

Here's how you can unfreeze your computer if you encounter this virus:    

Mac Users:  Click on the Safari menu and choose "reset Safari." Make sure all check boxes are selected or hold down the Shift key while relaunching Safari. This will prevent Safari from reopening windows and tabs from the previous session.  Victims can also disable the reopening feature across OS X from the General pane of System Preferences. 

PC users:  Turn off your computer and start it again in "safe mode."  Follow Window's instructions to do a "System Restore."  You may even have to take it to a professional computer repair shop to fully remove the virus from your PC.

Better Business Bureau has a number of resources to help you protect your identity and money. Find more at their website.