Printing-ink veterans don't take cyberspace journalists too seriously - Roy Greenslade, Guardian Online
A BUNCH of Russian hackers are offering 43 cents for each Mac that their partners in crime can infect with bogus video software.
The move has been cited by insecurity experts at Sophos as a sign that Mac users' security by obscurity days are coming to an end.
While 43 cents is not much, the idea is that it will encourage hackers to target Apple's PCs for recruitment into botnets. Any Ibotnet will probably want a lot of victims, so 43 cents for each smug scalp will work out to a lot of dosh.
In a presentation (PDF) at the Virus Bulletin 2009 security conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Sophos researcher Dmitry Samosseiko spoke of his interactions with the Russian "Partnerka." This is a group of web affiliates who rake in oodles of cash from spam and malware, mostly from phony drug sites.
Apparently there are affiliates dedicated to the sale and promotion of fake Mac software. One group operating a few months ago was offering 43 cents for each install and offered various promo materials in the form of Mac OS 'video players'.
Symantec said that Samosseiko's evidence shows Mac users, who often believe that only Windows users suffer from malware, are increasingly at risk on the web.
Media friendly Sophos principal analyst Graham Cluley said that it was not good news that financially motivated criminals are looking at Apple Macs as well as Windows as a market for their activities.
This is because most Mac users believe that faith in Steve Jobs protects them from all malware. To them, malware is only for Windows users because OS X is perfect and totally secure.
The fact that Mac OS X's security is the stuff of jokes at security experts' parties does not matter to the Apple faithful.
Since the OS only has five per cent of the market, most of its users get left alone, Cluely said.
However some of the cyber criminals are starting to see these five percent as a soft target, particularly since rather few Apple fanboys have anything like security software installed. µ
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