SHAFAQNA – Hackers are reportedly exploiting a flaw in Apple’s desktop operating system, Mac OS X, to take remote control of thousands of Apple computers around the world. Researchers at Russian antivirus company Dr Web said in a report that more than 17,000 Macs – 1,227 of which are in the UK – have been infected by the malware called “Mac.BackDoor.iWorm.”
The malware gives the hacker remote access to the infected computer via a communication system that manipulates the search and comment functions of the popular social news website Reddit.
Once they have gained access to the computers, the hackers can send commands to their “botnet” of infected computers, telling them to spread more malware or launch spam campaigns and denial-of-service attacks.
The infected computers are not currently being used for any attack. However, as of last Friday, 17,658 infected Mac computers have been discovered, according to Dr Web, and this number could be growing.
“This isn’t, of course, the first time that we have seen Mac computers infected by malware and hijacked into a criminal botnet, and it isn’t anything like as big so far as the notorious Flashback worm which hit more than 600,000 Mac computers in early 2012,” said security researcher Graham Cluley in a blog post.
“But it is another timely warning that Mac users shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they are somehow immune from computer security threats. An anti-virus product should be part of your arsenal, if you value your privacy and the data you store on your Apple computer.”
TK Keanini, chief technology officer at Lancope, added that the botnet will begin to evolve as countermeasures are put in place, and the hackers engineer and innovate around them.
“It was less than 10 years ago when you would hear people say they were moving to the Mac because Windows was too insecure. Today, everything is fair game and being actively targeted by the attackers,” he said.
Apple could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.