Feeds

Mac malware found with valid developer ID at freedom conference

Angolan activist targeted for screenshot spying

The essential guide to IT transformation

The annual Oslo Freedom Conference, where activists meet to share tips on advancing human rights, has thrown up an unusual piece of Apple OS X malware.

At a workshop covering how to secure your hardware against government intrusion, security researcher Jacob Applebaum discovered the code on a laptop owned by an Angolan human rights campaigner. The malware was stealing screenshots from the infected system and uploading them to two command and control servers.

The malware is a hidden program called macs.app which installs itself among the computer's log-in items so that it fires up once the machine is booted. It had been signed off by a legitimate Apple developer ID, enabling it to get past Cupertino's Gatekeeper security software.

Once activated, the software takes a regular series of screenshots from the infected computer and sends them off to two servers – one of which has been found to be inactive and the other is private. Since the initial discovery, a second sample of the malware has also been discovered on another system, but this isn't thought to be a large-scale attack.

"The Angolan activist was pwned via a spear phishing attack – I have the original emails, the original payload and an updated payload," Applebaum tweeted. He also said that Apple has now revoked the developer ID used by the code.

Thankfully, removing the malware is relatively simple. F-Secure already has a signature file for it included in its security software, and users can delete it themselves by removing the macs.app application from the log-in queue and applications folder.

The use of a developer ID is unusual in the world of malware for OS X, and this fact, along with its highly targeted distribution method, suggests it's a custom job done specifically for spying on specific individuals.

Malware is increasingly being used to spy on activists in China and other countries (here in the Land of the Free the government doesn't need to, since the phone companies are happy to help) and those who think they might be under surveillance should take extra precautions with their systems and communications. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.