Publications

Happy birthday, Mac!

Thanks to my colleague Christian for providing the info for this post

Today, 24th January, the famous Macintosh celebrates its anniversary – it was 25 years ago to the day that Steve Jobs introduced the first Macintosh Computer, the 128K, at Apple’s AGM. It was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command line interface – a big step at the time. With devoted Mac followers guessing and gossiping about what the future holds, let’s take a quick look back at malware and security for Mac over the last few years.

Traditionally, malware writers have overlooked Mac in favor of targeting Windows with its bigger market share. But the proof-of-concept samples which appear periodically show that Macs aren’t invincible.

We wrote about two such examples in 2006 – IM-Worm.OSX.Leap.a, which tricked users by pretending to be screenshots of Leopard, the latest version of OS X, and spread via iChat; and Worm.OSX.Inqtana.a, which exploited a Bluetooth vulnerability and attempted to infect other Bluetooth devices within range.Apple’s switch in 2006 to x86 architecture opened up new horizons; the ability to run Windows natively, and lower prices attracted new users. The result: a steadily rising market share, from 2.88% at the end of 2004 to more than 10% by the end of 2008. The downside: increased popularity lead to an increase in the number of malicious programs targeting Macs.

Although the numbers shown above are low – especially in comparison with Windows based malware – the abrupt rise in 2007 is a bit scary. We’ve all seen that once market share of any device achieves a certain critical mass, malware writers start targeting it. And these days, it’s going to be cyber criminals who are looking for serious profits from the attacks they conduct. Incidentally, as I write, there’s a new Trojan making the rounds, Backdoor.Mac.iWorm.a. While it could be said that this malicious program is written in order to teach software pirates a lesson – it disguises itself as a free version of iWork 09 – malware is always malware.

It’s not just computers that are at risk. Apple’s other products such as the iPod and the iPhone, with their ever evolving functionality and networking capabilities, also offer new opportunities for malware attacks.

So Mac users have to learn to take care of their systems in the same way that Windows users do by updating their OS and applications regularly. The iTunes media player and Safari are particularly well known for containing vulnerabilities. Although Mac is currently one of the least attacked systems, security has to be taken seriously in order to maintain this happy situation.

Happy Birthday Macintosh! Here’s to the next happy – and healthy! – 25 years.

Happy birthday, Mac!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Reports

APT trends report Q2 2021

This is our latest summary of advanced persistent threat (APT) activity, focusing on significant events that we observed during Q2 2021: attacks against Microsoft Exchange servers, APT29 and APT31 activities, targeting campaigns, etc.

LuminousMoth APT: Sweeping attacks for the chosen few

We recently came across unusual APT activity that was detected in high volumes, albeit most likely aimed at a few targets of interest. Further analysis revealed that the actor, which we dubbed LuminousMoth, shows an affinity to the HoneyMyte group, otherwise known as Mustang Panda.

WildPressure targets the macOS platform

We found new malware samples used in WildPressure campaigns: newer version of the C++ Milum Trojan, a corresponding VBScript variant with the same version number, and a Python script working on both Windows and macOS.

Ferocious Kitten: 6 years of covert surveillance in Iran

Ferocious Kitten is an APT group that has been targeting Persian-speaking individuals in Iran. Some of the TTPs used by this threat actor are reminiscent of other groups, such as Domestic Kitten and Rampant Kitten. In this report we aim to provide more details on these findings.

Subscribe to our weekly e-mails

The hottest research right in your inbox