Mac users who have downloaded pirated software recently may have been infected by a trojan horse that is being used to create the first Mac botnet, an antivirus company warned.
The virus is transmitted through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks where users can download pirated versions of Mac’s word processing software iWork. It infects the system by installing itself as a root kit in the Mac’s operating system and then broadcasts its location to a remote server over the Internet. Hackers can then connect to the infected Macs and take them over remotely over the Internet.
Antivirus software company Symantec recently discovered that thousands of Macs in Taiwan have already fallen victim to the trojan. The firm warned that variant strains of the virus may begin to develop, sparking a larger wave of infections if users continue to download pirated software.
Researchers said the virus uses infected computers as a springboard to attack more computers, eventually forming a botnet, or a network of computers with malicious software installed.
“Computers that have been infected become a member of a zombie network,” said Thomas Chuang (莊添發), a senior IT consultant at Symantec. “[The computer] will be at the mercy of hackers, who may use it in a distributed denial of service attack or for mass mailings of junk e-mails.”
Chuang said that users who download pirated software from P2P networks often face more problems than copyright infringement, such as opening the computer to malicious software that piggy-backs on the pirated software.
Users who think they may have been infected should use a Mac antivirus tool to clean their system and remove the trojan.