Malware Off to a Good Start in 2009

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Talk about kicking somebody when they're down. Apple loses its fearless leader (aka The One) for six months, if not permanently. The company's stock is in the toilet, and its largest investor is dumping shares. The products it rolled out at Apple's last-ever Macworld show could put a crystal meth addict to sleep, and the SEC wants to know who's been playing doctor with Steve Jobs' medical reports.

Now this: Mac malware is now circulating across the Net via pirated copies of Apple's new iWorks software. Per Computerworld's Gregg Keizer:

"The 'iServices.a' Trojan hitchhikes on iWork '09's installer, said Intego, an Austin-based company that specializes in Mac security software. 'The installer for the Trojan horse is launched as soon as a user begins the installation of iWork, following the installer's request of an administrator password,' Intego said in a warning published Wednesday."

Once the Mac is infected, the Trojan phones home to let daddy know it arrived safely and is awaiting further instructions. Since then, the same bit of viral nastiness -- dubbed OSX.Trojan.iServices.B -- has begun showing up in pirated copies of Adobe Photoshop CS4, according to Macworld.

Glass-half-full types can view this as further proof of the Mac's succcess; it's now installed in sufficient numbers to be worth the attention of botnet herders. Also: That room full of manure is sure to have a pony inside.

I bet Apple is reconsidering reissuing those recommendations about installing anti-virus software, which it posted on its support site last November and then pulled after it received too much attention. At the time, Apple issued a statement saying:

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box."

I wonder how they're feeling about that now?

Windoze fanz can't really gloat, though. There's an even nastier worm wriggling through holes in Windows RPC Server Service. Known variously as "Conficker" or "Downadup," it's been infecting an average of one million machines a day. At this point 10 million machines have been nailed, but potential victims could total more than 300 million, according to the wonks at Secureworks.

Nobody knows what Conficker's ultimate purpose will be, but selling Girl Scout Cookies won't be it. Looks like 2009 is starting out nasty in all kinds of ways. Be careful out there.

Have you been nailed by Mac Malware or Windows Worms? Post your tales of woe below or email me directly: cringe (at) infoworld (dot) com.

This story, "Malware Off to a Good Start in 2009" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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