Two New OS X Attacks Bite Apple

By Matthew Hines  |  Posted 2009-06-17 Print this article Print

Long revered as the operating system that deterred malware attacks based on its sheer fortitude, Apple's OS X continues to be targeted more frequently by malware schemers, with two new samples emerging just this week.

Researchers at AV giant Trend Micro reported the discovery of a pair of emerging Trojan threats that seek to trick overconfident Apple users into downloading their payloads.

As TrendLabs' technical communications specialist Det Caraig points out in his research note on the attacks, Apple users are still far less likely to have their endpoints owned than their Microsoft Windows using peers. However, as proven over the last year in particular, Apple's growing PC market share has driven a subsequent upswell in the numbers of threats being created to target its OS.

Adding to the problem is that many Apple aficionados still believe that by merely using the company's sleek machines they are somehow immune to being targeted.

"Even though there are indeed relatively fewer Mac malware [samples] compared with Windows, many Mac users who still believe they are somehow magically immune from attacks may run the risk of encountering any of these two," he said.

The first of the newly discovered attacks is a Trojan threat dubbed OSX_RSPLUG.C, which is being distributed via Web sites, uses the time-honored approach of goading users to download multimedia player software to see a video (in this case of a pornographic nature) to sneak onto devices running OS X. The download is in fact a ploy to infect machines with the subsequent goal of making the devices vulnerable to other attacks.

According to TrendLabs, OSX_RSPLUG.C is first delivered as a .DMG file that harbors a .PKG file that also executes BASH scripts hidden behind and SED command.

"The said scripts drop files that set up a cron job to run a component file. It also executes a PERL script that allows the malware to connect to servers to download and execute other scripts," Caraig noted in a blog post on the matter.

The attack thereby modifies the settings of affected machines' DNS servers and, having done so, can redirect them to whatever types of sites it wants to, typically phishing or drive-by malware sites, according to the expert.

The second new OS X threat tracked by Trend is OSX_RSPLUG.E, a very similar attack whose only major difference from is relative, payload included, is that in addition to hiding behind an SED command it is also obfuscated by a UUEncode program.

Clearly Apple technologies remain far behind their Windows brethren in terms of sheer volume when it comes to attracting malware. However, as we've seen in many instances over the years, increased market share almost always results in more attacks.

Matt Hines has been following the IT industry for over a decade as a reporter and blogger, and has been specifically focused on the security space since 2003, including a previous stint writing for eWeek and contributing to the Security Watch blog. Hines is currently employed as marketing communications manager at Core Security Technologies, a Boston-based maker of security testing software. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Core Security, and neither the company, nor its products and services will be actively discussed in the blog. Please send news, research or tips to |

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel