New Mac spyware found on Angolan activist's computer

The malware is digitally signed with a valid Apple Developer ID, security researchers say

Previously unknown Mac OS X spyware, signed with a valid Apple Developer ID, has turned up on the laptop of an activist from Angola at a human rights conference in Norway.

Security researcher and privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum found the spyware on the activist's Mac at the Oslo Freedom Forum earlier this week.

The activist's computer was compromised as a result of a spear phishing attack, Appelbaum said Thursday on Twitter. The researcher claims that he has copies of the attack emails and two different malware samples.

Security researchers from Finnish antivirus firm F-Secure analyzed one of the malware samples and concluded that it is a previously unknown Mac backdoor program which appears to be signed with a valid Apple Developer ID.

Apple's Developer ID program allows developers to sign their Mac applications with trusted digital certificates issued by Apple so they don't get flagged as malware by the Gatekeeper feature in Mac OS X Mountain Lion.

"Signing your applications, plug-ins, and installer packages with a Developer ID certificate lets Gatekeeper verify that they are not known malware and have not been tampered with," Apple says on its developer website.

The malware, which F-Secure now detects as OSX/KitM.A, takes screen shots without authorization and saves them in a folder for later uploading to remote servers. The malware contacts two command-and-control domains hosted on servers in the Netherlands, according to F-Secure's analysis.

Antivirus firm Symantec has also added detection routines for the new threat, which it calls OSX.Kitmos. In addition to taking screen shots, this Trojan program can download and install other malware and steal information, the company said in a technical document on its website.

The malware can execute commands on behalf of attackers, can upload files from the compromised computer and can manipulate the network activity indicator in order to hide its presence, Symantec said.

Answering a question on Twitter on whether he plans to make copies of the spear phishing emails public, Applebaum said that he's likely to write a blog post about it, but after first talking with the victim about some of the details since their life might be in danger.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareAppleoperating systemssoftwarespywaresymantecf-secureMac OS

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?