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Java-based malware tries Mac-smacking cross-platform attack

Write once, pwn anywhere

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Malware-writers have developed a Java-based, equal-opportunity botnet Trojan in an apparent bid to infect more machines outside the Windows ecosystem.

IncognitoRAT uses source code and libraries that allow it to attack both Windows and Mac machines, at least in theory. Only the Windows version of the malicious downloader has been spotted actually spreading, McAfee reports.

"The original propagation vector of IncognitoRAT is a Windows executable, but apparently it was created using the tool JarToExe, which includes, among other features, the ability to convert .jar files into .exe files, to add program icons and version information, and protect and encrypt Java programs," explains McAfee researcher Carlos Castillo. "The victim's machine has to have the Java Runtime Environment installed and must be online. As soon as the file is executed, it starts downloading a ZIP file with a pack of Java-based libraries to perform several remote activities."

Once successfully executed, the malware establishes remote control of compromised systems, allowing criminal hackers to either control or extract and upload private information from compromised devices.

Cross-platform malware is rare but not unprecedented. The more widespread use of Mac machines is bound to make the platform a more attractive target for virus writers and other miscreants. Whether they will succeed is another question, but several vulnerabilities in Apple's software have been revealed through various editions of the annual CanSecWest Pwn2Own hacking competition, so it's certainly possible. ®

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