Remember when Apple’s Mac operating system – OS X – was thought to be all-but impervious to attack from malware and viruses? Well, it seems that those days are well and truly coming to an end with the news that a new Tibet malware variant has appeared, ready to wreak havoc on Macs the world over.
Most interesting though, is the fact that this particular attack appears to be more targeted than past attacks, with a political motivation apparently at the heart of the matter.
The Tibet malware was initially discovered back in March, and apparently uses the same Java exploit as previous attacks that have proven to be quite adept at infecting Mac users. This new iteration, it seems, is being used as part of a traditional Trojan horse attack. Users are emailed a file called matiriyal.zip which contains a disguised application. Once run, the app connects to a remote server in China, giving it access to files and the ability to run local commands. Obviously, neither result is desirable one for the unwitting recipient of the file.
Those recipients, it seems, have so far been part of a Tibetan activist group, with the Chinese apparently the instigators of the attacks. As is the case with such things though, it is surely only a matter of time before the attacks begin to be used on Mac owners that are not part of the activist group that is currently the target.
The choice to attack Mac users is an interesting one considering the relatively small user-base that the Apple devices enjoy. Macs have been known to be a favorite of the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, however, so perhaps the decision does make more sense than first appearances suggest.
Apple’s operating system had been believed to be considerably more secure than Microsoft’s Windows, and to an extent that is still true. With the Mac’s growth in popularity alongside the iPhone and iPad however, security experts are warning that hackers and virus makers are finding the platform to be more enticing with each quarter that the Mac sees a growth in market share.
So, how should you stay secure from this havoc? Simply don’t open any file you don’t know of, and if Apple pushes out a security update, don’t hesitate to download and install.