Flashback Hacker ‘Plotting Comeback With Fresh Mac Attacks’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Author of malware that infected over 600,000 Macs is concocting attacks on Apple products

Expect more Mac attacks in the coming months, as the author of the Flashback Trojan, which infected over 600,000 Mac OS X machines, is creating fresh exploits targeting Apple’s operating system, according to sources.

Flashback caused a serious stir last year, as many believed it marked an inflection point, where people convinced of Macs’ high level of security had their faith shattered by the malware, which was pilfering people’s personal information.

Now, according to F-Secure’s security advisor Sean Sullivan, the Flashback author is looking to exploit people’s remaining trust in the Mac system.

Mac attacks incoming

“A very reliable source (who frequently lurks about in Russian malware forums) told me the Flashback author is still actively pursuing Macs vulnerabilities,” Sullivan told TechWeekEurope.

F-Secure Labs believes 2013 will see another Mac malware outbreak. “While there have been smart security changes to the Mac OS, there’s a segment of the Mac-using population who are basically oblivious to the threats facing Macs, making them vulnerable to a new malware outbreak,” Sullivan added.

Other notable Mac OS threats have caused problems for users. Fake anti-virus threat Mac Defender caused a panic in 2011, and Apple didn’t help matters by keeping schtum on the issue for weeks, until it eventually promised to remove the malware from users’ systems.

An internal memo indicated Apple had instructed its support employees not to acknowledge the existence of MacDefender or to offer any assistance in removing the malware.

F-Secure is also predicting a rise in mobile spy software, which TechWeekEurope understands is hitting Apple iOS harder than it is other mobile operating systems.

Lacoon Security exclusively revealed results of a sampling it took in March this year, which found 48 devices were running mobile spy software – 74 percent of which were iOS systems. A second sampling from October showed 52 percent of the 175 compromised devices were running iOS.

“The more smartphones there are, the more people will be seeking out software like this – to find out what their ex is up to, for example,” Sullivan added.

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