Mac botnet claims criticised for being out of date and will not be widespread

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Claims that a botnet that was created using Apple Macs has been knocked back by McAfee.

There were claims last week that a piece of malicious software that was unwittingly shared over a peer-to-peer network in January was the key tool in the first known attempt to create a botnet of Mac computers.


Symantec Ireland researchers Mario Barcena and Alfredo Pesoli claimed that the Trojan, named OSX.Iservice, hid itself in pirated versions of the Apple application iWork ‘09 and the Mac version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 that were shared on a popular peer-to-peer bit torrent network.


Once this was downloaded, the applications worked normally but the Trojan opened a ‘back door' on the compromised computer that allowed it to begin contacting other hosts in its peer-to-peer network for commands.


The researchers wrote: “OSX.Iservice is an interesting piece of malware - not only does it make use of Mac OS internals, but it is also the first Mac botnet that we are aware of.


“With malware authors showing an increasing interest in the Mac platform, we believe that more advanced [user interface] spoofing tricks may be seen in the future.”


However McAfee's David Marcus, security research manager for Avert Labs, claimed that this piece of malware actually appeared back in January of this year and does not pose any major security issue.


Marcus said: “Quite frankly there is not any functionality in this ‘bot' (some would simply call it a remote access Trojan but let's not split hairs) that we have not seen before. The only thing of concern here is that it does affect the Mac platform, which certainly is fresh territory.


“As we had discussed in January, it is spread through pirated software at this point (a huge no, no anyway) so hopefully distribution will be light and not result in large numbers. It definitely does highlight the need for security software regardless of platform.”

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