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Apple IT

AppleCare Reps Told To Skirt Malware Questions 389

Posted by timothy
from the neither-confirm-nor-deny dept.
Dominare writes with this bit from ZDnet: "'A confidential internal Apple document tells the company's front-line support people how to handle customers who call about malware infections: Don't confirm or deny that an infection exists, and whatever you do, don't try to remove it.' So basically, now that Macs have their own equivalent to XP Antivirus the best you can hope for is to be pointed at the store where you can buy something that may or may not fix your problem ... nice."
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AppleCare Reps Told To Skirt Malware Questions

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  • by mirix (1649853) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:14PM (#36185392)

    Certainly the best way to deal with a problem is to deny that it exists altogether. I guess so long as people have faith that a mac is somehow immune (be it to actual virii or user error induced malware installs), and they keep selling, that's all that matters.

    Steve must have been taking lessons from some govn't agencies.

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      Certainly the best way to deal with a problem is to deny that it exists altogether.

      Seems to have worked well enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger and for Sony. :)

    • by gordguide (307383) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:33PM (#36186226)
      Apple has NEVER denied that any computer, including it's own, is potentially vulnerable to exploits. Their position is the same as it's always been ... users should take appropriate precautions. At times in the past they've offered for free commercial anti-virus apps as part of AppleCare and DotMac. Current users should download Sophos Antivirus for Mac. It's free.
      • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:09PM (#36187056)

        Apple has NEVER denied that any computer, including it's own, is potentially vulnerable to exploits. Their position is the same as it's always been ... users should take appropriate precautions. At times in the past they've offered for free commercial anti-virus apps as part of AppleCare and DotMac. Current users should download Sophos Antivirus for Mac. It's free.

        So Apple have never said Mac's don't get viruses.

        Even if that is true, they've inferred it plenty of times. I remember these ad's where they had one guy acting as a Mac and the other acting as a PC when only the PC got sick...

        That is pretty much saying Mac's don't get viruses.

    • It worked for the iPhone 4 antenna problem... Deny, deny, deny until you have enough bumpers to give a free one to everyone, and the problem goes away...
  • Apple declares: Fuck it, we're evil [newstechnica.com]

    "But our stuff is sooo good. You’ll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It’s shiny and it’s pretty and it’s cool and it works. It’s not like you’ll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

  • I hear that Sony has some "recently available" security engineers, maybe Apple should hire them to work the phones.
  • Shouldn't front-line support people actually know if it's actual bad malware or not? If it is, this is remarkably stupid to neither confirm nor deny that it even exists. That seems like it came from marketing, not tech support. sigh.
    • by IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:42PM (#36185696)

      Shouldn't front-line support people actually know if it's actual bad malware or not? If it is, this is remarkably stupid to neither confirm nor deny that it even exists. That seems like it came from marketing, not tech support. sigh.

      You should probably read the article. Apple is not telling its staff to deny that the malware exists, it is directing that the support staff should not confirm or deny that the software is installed on a specific Mac and should not try to remove it. Instead Apple is directing the customer to a specified documentation providing general information about malware. Apple is declining to remove software, which the customer has installed and subsequently changed their mind about. Sigh.

      • You should probably read the article.

        That ruins the fun of arguing in ignorance though! :P :)

        Apple is not telling its staff to deny that the malware exists, it is directing that the support staff should not confirm or deny that the software is installed on a specific Mac

        I will go read the article, but this is confusing. Neither confirming nor denying that a given piece of software is installed seems odd. Even if they are going to say "but you installed it, so we can't help you," why should they not be allowed to say "Yes, that software is installed." ... ?

      • Ok, so I read it.

        Apple is declining to remove software, which the customer has installed and subsequently changed their mind about. Sigh.

        So here's what I don't understand. The user installed it. The user apparently figures out that's a problem and calls AppleCare. What's AppleCare there for? Only to answer questions/help users if there is an actual bug in an Apple product? I guess what I don't understand is this: I would have expected, at least eventually, to be helped even if it IS my mistake. Even Verizon does that. Mess up your wireless settings? They walk you through that. In fact, they walk you through that whe

    • Shouldn't front-line support people actually know if it's actual bad malware or not? If it is, this is remarkably stupid to neither confirm nor deny that it even exists. That seems like it came from marketing, not tech support. sigh.

      You act like they're separate divisions. =D

  • Enough said, although the internal memo from Apple smacks of "cover our ass" legal hot footing - they pretty much say "go look this up on the internet", which is not a great response, although this isn't actually a public response. No doubt there will be something forthcoming soon.

    AppleCare techs *have* responded to people about how to remove it, although I guess that's not policy now, although given that it's still "an issue in progress" I expect these are temporary policies while they hammer something out

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcombel (1557059)

      not sure what the /. issue with the guy is

      ed bott makes a living writing privately (for news sites and publishing his own books) on technology topics, mostly about windows - he likes windows, he writes about it, and publishes his work. getting paid to do what you like in a field that you like doesn't make you a shill. it makes you happy. it's a pretty cynical worldview, to assume that people aren't doing honest things because they like them, but instead dishonest things because a MegaCorp is paying them BIG

      • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:23PM (#36186668)

        Not at all, but look at the headline, and compare it to the actual content. While he does indicate in the article itself that Apple's stance on this is "ongoing investigation", he jumps right to the punchline and cherry picks some nice juicy bits out.

        If he "likes windows and writes about it" then he sure does like his negative Apple stories too. Funny that - pro MS, anti-Apple... Now, I'm not accusing him of being a shill - I think the word is thrown around far too frequently and cynically around here (and note, I did not call him so in my OP), but there's not much positive coming from him on OS X, and plenty negative. One might suggest if he's that unhappy with OS X that he simply stop using it, or reporting on it, but those ad impressions are all important for the people who pay him I guess.

        I've got no problem with positive MS writers, goodness I even know people who work for the small, Redmond-based software startup, but there's lately been an undertow of "sensationalise anything negative about Apple" in the tech press of late, this being one of those occasions (of course, alongside the usual tiresome Apple gadget hype, but when is that new?).

  • by FullMetalJester (887382) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:27PM (#36185522)
    All you have to do is go into Safe Mode. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1455 [apple.com] Then go into the Applications Folder > Choose MacDefender.app > Move to Trash. (in Safe Mode) Reboot normally and reset Safari.
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Don;t even need to do that - just pop open the terminal and kill the process then trash the app, or use Activity Monitor to kill it. Don;t even need to reboot. Reset Safari to kill any porn links or malware bookmarks it added and job done.

  • by Roskolnikov (68772) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:29PM (#36185548)

    hey, this is a web page claiming that your infected, click ok!!
    umm, you clicked cancel, you really want to click ok, ok??
    you know, it doesn't matter which button you push, both result
    in the continuation of this racter like discussion.

    wow, you clicked ok, wait while I install some software to 'help' you.
    oh, while installing I noticed that I will need your password to continue....

    wow, you gave me your password, can you google pwn3d ?

    works on PC, works on Mac, likely works on every other modern OS.

    this isn't an exploit via bug, its an exploit via user, if you drop your pants in front of a glory hole......
    that said Apple isn't really helping by avoiding the topic.

  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

    Apple employees are directed to not help you fix a problem with a bad application you chose to install AND chose to give root privs to.

    And ... ?

    • Please refrain from using logic, it interferes with the Two Minutes Hate.

    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yodleboy (982200) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:49PM (#36186388)
      you guys are great. Mac folks praise the hand holding and the fact that a Mac just won't let you do anything bad. Then in the same breath they say, well you're just stupid, it's your fault the hand holding, infallible Mac didn't stop you.

      Mac, the computer any stupid user can use, but don't come crying when you do something stupid. Despite the fact that we reassured you constantly that your own stupidity wasn't a problem, of course...

      Can you guys just make up your minds? Is it the computer for everyman or just the tool of a bunch of elitist trend followers whose idea of "choice" is a locked down platform?
      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot <<ten.egdup> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:10PM (#36186564) Homepage Journal

        you guys are great.

        Thanks!

        Mac folks praise the hand holding and the fact that a Mac just won't let you do anything bad.

        Dude, I live on the command line in my Mac. Won't let me do anything bad? On what planet?

        Then in the same breath they say, well you're just stupid, it's your fault the hand holding, infallible Mac didn't stop you.

        Nope: I say that on any platform that DOES give you the freedom Mac OS X gives you, this is literally unavoidable (well, except by being knowledgable enough to not do stupid things like installing rogue software and giving it root privs).

        Can you guys just make up your minds?

        Can you stop shooting down straw men?

    • by makomk (752139)

      Errm... you know where most Windows malware infections come from these days, right?

      • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        Errm... you know where most Windows malware infections come from these days, right?

        Not really, no. Nor do I care, and neither do my comments have anything to do with Windows. :-)

        If you're trying to make the argument that "these days" Windows is about as secure as a Mac, I'd doubt it, because I know people who still get lots of viruses ... but whatever, I really don't care. I wasn't making a comparison to other platforms.

  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:40PM (#36185670) Homepage

    The crux of the current problem is a setting in Safari that allows the computer to open"safe" documents automatically. The issue with that checkbox has been known for over a year and its one of the things I remember to do is to uncheck it (as it has been defaulted to checked, open those documents.)

    Apple could have done an update to uncheck that box, or better yet remove the feature, but it sadly remained and now they are going to have to pay for thier ignorance of the issue.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      This would slow some own, but those bent on infecting their computers would still find a way...

    • by DJRumpy (1345787)

      You do realize this malware trojan still cannot infect you unless you give it your admin password? The fact that Safari opens up attachments that are considered safe is bad enough, yes but it does not expose a user to this issue. The user does that themselves by offering up their admin password.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Because I keep all my most important stuff stored in the admin home directory and there is nothing in my home directory that a trojan could steal or use to my disadvantage.

  • I don't see a problem. I'm guessing the vast majority of infections aren't the fault of the OS or hardware. So why should Apple be on the hook to repair some guy's machine who infected himself by running a porn dialer or some app he grabbed off a torrent site?
  • by OffbeatAdam (960706) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:06PM (#36185950)

    Apple is trying to protect themselves from becoming a helpdesk, which is something they are not. They are very clear about this. The Genius Bar is also, very clear about this. They are not a help desk, and in advanced cases support comes at a price. Just as apple is not on the other side of the phone to teach you what each keyboard shortcut does, they're not there to fix every little computer problem you have. You can't call apple if you delete a photo, and all the same you can't call apple if you clicked a link and had your system violated.

    The major problem is that we now have to recognize exactly what this means. This does not mean that the mac is more or less vulnerable, because it's not - it is exactly as vulnerable as it was before. The problem is that as the total users of Apple computers grows, the ratio of of (minority) secure users to (majority) vulnerable users grows in distance. As the Apple becomes more popular, the chance of the user interacting with the system is likely to follow a malicious link, open a malicious email, or fall for a malicious ad, is greater; there is a higher chance that this user is the type of user interacting with the system, as these are the most common users on the internet.

    This is a trend that was not witnessed with PCs, as by the time Malware became a heavy component of the PC/Internet world, PCs had penetrated every aspect of the general public. Mom and little brother would follow any link to their hearts content, would want to help the Nigerian Prince, and would feel obligated to save the Penguins of North Africa. Apple has now begun penetrating this market as well, and it can only be assumed that the same ignorance will also affect the Apple community.

    You can secure a computer all you want, it's very difficult to keep most people from clicking the latest joke link and falling for any one of the thousands of ads they'll see in a 5 minute time period. The only perfect solution, is to not let them on the computer at all.

    • Apple is trying to protect themselves from becoming a helpdesk, which is something they are not. They are very clear about this

      Yes, the giant "We're here to help" headline on top of the Apple retail home page really slams that point home. http://www.apple.com/retail/ [apple.com]

      "We’re here to help.... Geniuses provide hands-on technical support... Our Specialists help you get to know our products and answer your questions...."

      "If you have technical questions about your Mac, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, or iPhone, the G

  • by drb226 (1938360) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:08PM (#36185976)

    A confidential internal Apple document

    Speaking of security...

  • So, Apple allows you to install any software you want, by giving it the root password... So a user action. Yet, Apple rolls out the App Store on OS X to avoid this issue, and /. lambastes them because they are making the OS less "free" - so which do you want - the ability to totally fuck your computer up - or a guardian angel?

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