It's phishing season for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). Watch out for the dangling hooks!

Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) familiar watering hole is now becoming a security gaffe for Mac users.

Apple is issuing instructions for Mac owners to avoid or remove some vicious malware that's been making the rounds this month. Mac Defender -- which goes by various names including MacDefender, MacProtector, and MacSecurity -- is tricking computer users into handing over their credit card information.

Windows users are all too familiar with the scam. A website popup claims that a computer may be infected. Running the "free" scan is actually the unfortunate act of downloading the actual malware that is posing as the anti-virus program. Users are then instructed to enter their credit card data to pay up for premium virus removal.

A Mac OS X software update should correct the problem in a few days. Apple is also offering steps to remove the nefarious program right away. Unfortunately, the damage is already done. The suckered can't un-give their credit card information.

Remember that Mac loyalist who used to rib you and your Windows-watching ways, arguing that Macs are malfeasance-proof? 

They're not. They never have been. Hackers just never made much of an effort to crack into the realm. Mac users represented a sliver of the PC market share, and the owners were typically tech-savvy hipsters that were too smart to fall into that trap.

Well, there are more Mac users now, and the new wave of buyers is just as gullible as the masses running Windows.

This development should provide a boost for Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC). Its product page for Norton anti-virus software for Macs is now topped with a panic-stirring ribbon that reads:

Security Alert: "Mac Defender" malware targets Mac users.
Protect your Mac with Norton -- the ultimate online security.

You don't need to crank out Mac security to win here. This is the kind of news that will make all computer users more protective. It may even justify the whopping $7.7 billion that Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) shelled out to acquire McAfee last year.

You're mortal now, Mac owners. Get used to it.

Are Macs still better than Windows-fueled computers? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Editor's Note: This article has been changed to reflect the difference between a virus and malware. An original version implied Mac Defender is a virus, while it's actually malware. The Fool regrets the error.