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World's first OS X virus hits Apple

iLife interrupted by the iVirus.

Article comments

Apple’s Mac OS X software has been hit by a mischievous instant messaging virus – the first ever to target the platform.

The virus, dubbed Leap-A by anti-virus company Sophos, is said to spread using Apple’s iChat IM service, forwarding itself as a file called “latestpics.tgz” to an infected user’s buddy contacts.

Clicking on the file allows the malware to install and disguise itself as a harmless-seeming Jpeg icon.

Leap-A is believed to have originally been posted on a website for Apple users, posing as a software update. Although the virus is benign, and is not believed to be spreading in large numbers, it still marks a minor landmark for a platform that has come to be seen in some quarters as immune to such mundane security issues.

“It’s probably been written for publicity or as a proof-of-concept,” said Graham Cluley of Sophos. "Some owners of Mac computers have held the belief that Mac OS X is incapable of harbouring computer viruses, but Leap-A will leave them shell-shocked, as it shows that the malware threat on Mac OS X is real," he said.

Cluley said that some Apple users were claiming that Leap-A was somehow not a real virus because it required the victim to click on the link, an objection he branded as ridiculous. Many PC viruses needed user interaction to set off infection, he pointed out, and this was no different.

Despite being aimed at Apple users, the virus follows broader trends in attempting to spread by way of instant messaging, the new application target of choice. This is seen as a less protected channel, and therefore a point of vulnerability.

Although this is unlikely to be the last virus aimed at Apple users, it has a mischievous old-world feel to it. As with PCs, an increasing number of the platform’s security concerns now revolve around exploiting specific software vulnerabilities rather than code that aims to spread mayhem as well as itself.



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Haywood Jablome said: Worlds First Wannabe to Break an Apple Virus Story Still waiting

Wayne said: Therefore it is correct to call OSXLeap-A a virus or a wormBy defenition its a worm Not a virus

David said: You need to do research PhilTrojan horses do not contain any code to distribute or spread themselves viruses and worms doOSXLeap-A is programmed to use the iChat instant messaging system to spread itself to other users As such it is comparable to an email or instant messaging worm on the Windows platform Worms are a sub category of the group of malware known as virusesTherefore it is correct to call OSXLeap-A a virus or a worm It is not correct to call OSXLeap-A a Trojan horse

Phillip said: It is irresponsible journalism to report this as a virus when it is clearly a Trojan If you dont understand the fundamental difference between a Trojan and a virus perhaps you shouldnt be reporting on the subject If you do understand the difference then you are the worst type of journalist - the one who uses sensationalism instead of good research and good information to get people to read your materialAlthough this article was written a few months ago it should be correctedThank you



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