New variant of RSPlug Mac trojan

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Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 11:32 a.m. EST

A new variant of the RSPlug trojan, which targets Apple machines, was recently discovered in the wild, but quickly was fixed, Jamz Yaneza, a threat researcher with anti-malware firm Trend Micro, told Monday.

Although “dead” now, the latest incarnation of the trojan was distributed through websites offering “warez” -- hacker-speak for pirated software, Yaneza said. It would have caused an infected user's browser to redirect to a phishing or malware-serving site. It had less functionality than older variants though, indicating that it was likely the work of copycat hackers.

The first variant of the RSPlug trojan dates back to October 2007, then distributed through pornography sites. Users were told they needed to download a codec to view a video, which was actually the trojan – a DNS changer used to hijack search results and divert web traffic.

Last month, a separate attack targeting Mac users was distributed through pirated versions of Apple iWorks 2009 and Adobe's Photoshop for Macintosh, Yaneza said. These attacks should deter users from attempting to get free key generators [a small program to generate a valid cryptographic key for data encryption], cracks and serial numbers for Mac applications.

In addition, the incidence of this new trojan variant highlights the fact that cybercriminals increasingly are targeting the Mac OS, Yaneza said.

“There are many out there that still believe Macs are impervious to attacks,” Yaneza said.

Joel Esler, a SANS Internet Storm Center handler who specializes in Mac security told that he thinks Mac OS X trojans are "overhyped."

"I remain adamant in my stance that market share, inherent Unix-based security and difficulty of propagation makes these threats not as prevalent threat on the OS X platform," Esler said.
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