More security questions for Apple as new operating system launches
As Apple’s new Mountain Lion Mac operating system is released, security researches have warned that new malware targeting the system is on the loose.
The malware was discovered by Mac security specialists Intego, who have dubbed it Crisis. It masquerades as an Adobe Flash Player update and can install silently – meaning it does not require a password to run.
According to Intego Crisis can only run on OSX version 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard, and 10.7, which is Mountain Lion. The latest version of the Mac operating system was released just today.
The company claims the malware will install different components depending on what permissions the user has when the malware is downloaded. It can also defend itself from reboots, so will continue to run until it is uninstalled, Intego said.
Sophos also detected the malware – however according to their research it can attack both mac and Windows computers. When it runs on a Windows computer the Swizzor malware is installed, Sophos said.
Given that neither security company has seen the malware wild it is difficult to know exactly what it is designed to do.
This malware is the latest example of cyber criminals turning their attention to the mac platform, which now has enough users that it is worth the time and effort it takes to write malware for it.
"The good news is that this threat has not been seen in the wild so far, but we are seeing increasing evidence of cybercriminals exploiting the fact that many Mac users have still not got the message that they need to protect their computers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.
"There is much less malware for Macs than there is for Windows, but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. If Mac users are too laid-back about security and leave their bellies exposed, they’re asking for trouble," he added.
Earlier this year the Flashback outbreak infected around 600,000 macs around the world. While not a huge number it was the first significant attack aimed at Macs. Apple was heavily criticised for its slow response to the issue, taking around three months to fix the vulnerability.
This delay saw Eugene Kaspersky claim that Apple was a full decade behind Microsoft when it comes to dealing with malware. "Apple is now entering the same world as Microsoft has been in for more than 10 years: updates, security patches and so on," he told CBR.
"They will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had ten or 12 years ago. They will have to make changes in terms of the cycle of updates and so on and will be forced to invest more into their security audits for the software," he added.