New Mac Trojan uses the Russian space program as a front

The Komplex Trojan can download, execute, and delete files from an infected Mac

Security researchers have found a new Mac OS X malware that appears to be targeting the aerospace industry.

The Trojan, called Komplex, can download, execute, and delete files from an infected Mac, according to security firm Palo Alto Networks. Interestingly, the Trojan will also save a PDF document to the infected system concerning the Russian space program.

The PDF document details planned Russian space projects from 2016 to 2025, but it acts as a decoy, Palo Alto Networks said in Monday blog post.

In reality, the Trojan is a package of tools that will attempt to secretly communicate with its creators' command-and-control servers. This includes sending back data on the version, username, and process list running on the infected system. The Trojan can also receive instructions, and it will forward the results to the control servers.

To infect its victims, the Trojan seems to be exploiting a known vulnerability in the MacKeeper antivirus software, according to Palo Alto Networks. That vulnerability can cause a Mac to execute remote commands when visiting specially crafted web pages.

Victims might encounter this threat if they open a malicious link found an email.

An elite Russian hacking team known as Sofacy Group or Fancy Bear may have developed the Trojan, Palo Alto Networks added.

The security firm has said that the malicious coding in Komplex overlaps with another Trojan, called Carberp, which the hacking team used to target the U.S. government through email phishing.

"We believe that the author of Sofacy's Carberp variant used the same code, or at least the same design, to create the Komplex Trojan," Palo Alto Networks said.

It also noted that two internet domains used by the Komplex Trojan, apple-iclouds.net and itunes-helper.net, have been associated with other cyber attacks attributed to the Russian hacking group.

Fancy Bear has lately been blamed for hacking other high-profile targets, including the Democratic National Committee, although finding the true culprits of any hack can be difficult. Nevertheless, security experts call the group among the best hacking teams in the world.

Palo Alto Network said it doesn't know how many systems have been infected with the Komplex Trojan, but it has no reason to believe it's part of a widespread attack.

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Michael Kan

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