• 43 Cent Big Mac Attack is Back

    Image via Techrant

    Computerworld is reporting that a group of Russian malware writers and their antics prove that Macs are becoming increasingly larger attack targets. According to information the publication learned this week, the aforementioned Russian spammers reportedly pay hackers 43 cents for every Mac they infected with "bogus video software."

    In a presentation Thursday at the Virus Bulletin 2009 security conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Sophos researcher Dmitry Samosseiko discussed his investigation of the Russian "Partnerka," a tangled collection of Web affiliates who rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars from spam and malware, most of the former related to phony drug sites, and much of the latter targeting Windows users with fake security software, or "scareware."
    In a long and detailed presentation, one shred of evidence after another was offered to validate the many tactics employed by both the "Partnerka" and their associates - "codec-partnerka" - to sell and distribute "fake Mac software."

    One example, which has since gone offline, was Mac-codec.com, said Samosseiko. "Just a few months ago it was offering [43 cents] for each install and offered various promo materials in the form of Mac OS 'video players,'" he said.
    For years, many reasons, excuses, and technologies have been presented as to why Macs will be "eternally shielded" from the hackers and spammers who have destroyed innumerable PCs. But wherever there is money to be made, there will be progress made. And, unfortunately, the business of Mac attacks is growing highly profitable for those capable of widespread machine infection.

    "The growing evidence of financially-motivated criminals looking at Apple Macs as well as Windows as a market for their activities, is not good news -- especially as so many Mac users currently have no anti-malware protection in place at all," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at U.K-based Sophos, in a blog entry Thursday.
    So what does this mean for the future? More than likely, we will see a greater effort on the part of Apple and security software makers to step up traditional safeguards. Even though threats to the Mac are not an every day occurrence, they do take place. And usually, those that make an impact are substantial.

    Last year, as you may recall, Mac security vendor Intego alarmed the Mac community with a waning about an active Trojan horse that "exploited a vulnerability in Apple's Mac OS X." Earlier this year, another Trojan was found through pirated copies of Apple's iWork '09 application suite.

    Mac OS X's security has been roundly criticized by vulnerability researchers, but even the most critical have acknowledged that the Mac's low market share -- it accounted for just 5% of all operating systems running machines that connected to the Internet last month -- is probably enough protection from cyber criminals for the moment.
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