“Conficker” style botnet appears on the Mac

symantec logoDuring the recent Conficker scare, Mac users could at least sleep easy that their systems were in no danger of being infected. That may no longer be the case however according to security experts Symantec.

Although it was first spotted in January, Symantec have examined it in further detail and claim to have discovered a botnet named OSX.Iservice that hid itself in pirated versions of Apple’s iWork ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 and were shared on a bitorrent network.

Symantec announced that:

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.

As described the The Register, an infected user will commonly experience that their Mac CPU resources are permanently running at 100% as the botnet links-up with other infected Macs. The scary thing is, OSX.Iservice (nicknamed iBotnet by Symantec) is the same type of thing as the Conficker botnet on PCs that has wreaked such havoc across the world. The good news is that it only reached around a 1000 Macs before it was identified and removal is simple. Also, unlike a PC virus which can infect a computer by simply clicking on a link, iBotnet requires users to double click on a file for it to get into your system.

It’s natural that hackers will increasingly target Macs as their popularity increases and sales of PCs sag. There is after all a hell of a lot of money to be made from cyber crime. However, it’s also natural that security software developers such as Symantec will seek to “heighten awareness” of such events in order to encourage Mac users to buy their security software so you sometimes have to take news like this with pinch of salt.

Macs are still much safer than PCs but maybe the moral of this latest scare is to be very careful opening files that you have downloaded from dubious sources.

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