Surveillence outfit Hacking Team may have released a new piece of OS X malware

The malware packs a few new tricks, and AV software wasn't detecting it at first

Security researchers have identified a new piece of OS X malware that may come from Hacking Team, the controversial Italian company that sells surveillance software to governments.

The malware is a "dropper," which is used to plant other software onto a computer. In this case, it appears intended to install Hacking Team's Remote Control System (RCS).

"The dropper is using more or less the same techniques as older Hacking Team RCS samples, and its code is more or less the same," wrote Pedro Vilaca, an OS X security expert with SentinelOne, on his blog.

It's difficult to determine if Hacking Team is using the dropper or if someone else took the code and has added a few improvements. Hacking Team suffered a devastating data breach in July 2015 that saw the release of 400GB of data, including source code and exploits.

"Either this is an old sample or HackingTeam are still using the same code base as before the hack," Vilaca wrote.

Two variations of the code were uploaded about three weeks ago to VirusTotal, the free scanning service from Google. At that time, no antivirus products detected the code.

One of the improvements is that the malware uses Apple's native OS X encryption scheme and a custom packing method, wrote Patrick Wardle, director of research with the Synack.

Vilaca wrote that it also uses an anti-debugging trick to make analysis by security researchers more difficult. Still, Vilaca wasn't complimentary about the new sample.

"Until now, nothing spectacular," he wrote. "Either this is an old sample or HackingTeam are still using the same code base as before the hack."

Hacking Team has been accused in the past by privacy and human rights groups of selling its software to governments with poor human rights records. 

The leaked data included a client list and indicated Hacking Team had relationships with governments such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The company remained defiant after the hacking, saying it did not sell tools to governments illegally. Despite such a large data breach, Hacking Team remains in business.

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

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

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?