Apple Prepping 'Lion' OS X Update for App Store Download

The company's Mac OS X "Lion" upgrade is expected to launch via Apple's App Store, reports indicate.

Apple is getting ready to offer customers the latest major update to its operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," as a download through the App Store, Mac blog Apple Insider reported.

On Friday, the company issued its third build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developers, though it is not yet known if it contains a fix that will find and remove the Mac Defender malware.

Earlier this month, the blog reported that the App Store would be the main channel for Mac users to get the OS upgrade, according to unnamed sources. The blog also reported Apple was likely to offer a hard disc version of the OS. Analysts are predicting Apple will make an announcement about the software release at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, set to take place June 6 through 10.

On Wednesday Apple finally broke its silence on the Mac Defender scareware and other fake antivirus variants that have been making the rounds recently. The company promised a Mac OS X update to remove the malware. The company released a document acknowledging the scam's existence and outlined steps on avoiding installing the software, deleting it before it is installed and uninstalling it if it's already on the machine.

"A recent phishing scam has targeted Mac users by redirecting them from legitimate websites to fake websites which tell them that their computer is infected with a virus. The user is then offered Mac Defender 'anti-virus' software to solve the issue," the document explained. "This 'anti-virus' software is malware (i.e. malicious software). Its ultimate goal is to get the user's credit card information which may be used for fraudulent purposes."

According to Apple, the most common names for this malware are Mac Defender, Mac Protector and Mac Security. "In the coming days, Apple will deliver a Mac OS X software update that will automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants. The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware," the company said. "In the meantime, the Resolution section below provides step-by-step instructions on how to avoid or manually remove this malware."

Users stumbling upon rogue sites, often through poisoned image search results or by clicking on malicious links, are displayed a window that resembles a Finder window claiming to be "scanning" their system. The site warns the user that the Mac has been infected, and should download a antivirus scanner to clean the infection. The scareware also launches pop-up windows with adult content ads every few minutes to perpetuate the impression that the user has been infected. Users are scammed into providing a credit card number to purchase the antivirus software.

According to a report earlier this year from the Federal Trade Commission, consumer complaints about malware, spyware and adware skyrocketed in 2010 as users struggled with increasingly sophisticated computer threats. The number of complaints consumers made to the FTC about malware, spyware and adware more than tripled from 6,012 issues logged in 2009 to 22,813 in 2010, the FTC said in a report released March 8. There were nine times more complaints to the FTC in 2010 than there were in 2008, the report said.