There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the sudden increase in Mac-specific malware cropping up so far this year. First people raved about the fairly tame and unthreatening BlackHole RAT trojan, then Mac users had to watch out for a slightly more crafty but avoidable MACDefender trojan, and now there’s news of a more advanced malware kit (Weyland-Yutani Bot) that has the ability to steal data entered into Firefox (Safari and Chrome currently unaffected, but expected to follow soon). AppleCare has reportedly been receiving a significant number of calls about the MACDefender trojan, and has issued a support document on how to deal with it.
Clearly some change is in the air, but exactly how does it affect normal Mac users? I for one actively look for Mac-based malware (eg. MACDefender), and have never stumbled across it by accident. Maybe I need to surf on the ‘dark side’ of the web more often. I just wanted to give my take on recent events and the state of Mac malware, and why I don’t think there’s any reason to be too worried just yet.
A fairly significant 0day vulnerability is being reported in the Skype client (< 126.96.36.1992) for Mac OS X. By sending a specially-crafted instant message, an attacker may be able to remotely execute code on the recipient’s computer and gain access to a root shell. This issue has been discovered (by accident it seems) by Gordon Maddern of Australian security consultancy Pure Hacking.
“About a month ago I was chatting on skype to a collegue about a payload for one of our clients. Completely by accident, my payload executed in my collegues skype client. I decided to investigate a little further and found that the Windows and Linux clients were not vulnerable. It was only the Mac skype client that seemed to be affected. [...] Low and behold (sic) I was able to remotely gain a shell.”
It is believed that due to the relative simplicity in the delivery of the payload, it may be possible for this attack to be automated in the form of a worm. Skype are aware of this issue,
but have yet to release a patch (see below). Mac users should be extra careful until a patch is made available, and in the short term I recommend quitting Skype when not using it, or at least checking that your Skype client is set to only allow messages from your contacts (Skype > Preferences > Privacy Tab > Allow Messages From: Contacts).
No further details or proof-of-concept of the vulnerability are available as of yet, although I’d be interested to see it… time to start pasting random Metasploit payloads into Skype! ;)
Full disclosure of the vulnerability is now available here. In short, the issue was a persistent XSS that could be used to redirect the user to a malicious website. Here’s the PoC attack string:
There have been widespread reports of people installing a trojan that masquerades as an anti-virus program dubbed MacDefender. When visiting a malicious or compromised website promoted by SEO (search engine) poisoning, some Mac OS X users using Safari are experiencing the automatic download of a disk image which then automatically mounts and launches an installer. Intego’s blog has a detailed report which shows that they’ve discovered instances of scareware, where the websites (ironically displaying a faux-Windows GUI) show a fake virus scan and inform the user that their computer is infected.
Note: The automatic mounting and execution of the installer can easily be prevented by unchecking the “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” option in the Safari Preferences.
If the user installs it, the MacDefender app look very professionally done and is unlike any other OSX malware to date. It will periodically open porn sites, pop up warnings that the user’s computer is infected, and prompt them to purchase the MacDefender anti-virus software. The software purchase page is just a place to get the user’s credit card number, and no product is delivered.
For the most part this is a very low-risk trojan, and can easily be avoided by disabling the ‘safe files’ option, and not installing software that randomly appears on your computer. No website can arbitrarily scan your computer for malware, and if they tell you that you’re infected, they’re lying. If common sense and good security practice aren’t enough, you can install an anti-virus (eg. VirusBarrier or Sophos) that will pick up this trojan.
If you did accidentally install the trojan, it can be removed with the following steps:
- Open Activity Monitor (in /Applications/Utilities/), and find the MacDefender.app process in the list. If it’s there, select it and click ‘Quit Process’.
- Open System Preferences (in the Apple menu) and click on Accounts. Click on the Login Items tab for your user, and find MacDefender in the list. If it’s there, select it and remove it using the minus [-] button below the list.
- Delete MacDefender from your Applications folder.
[Update 5/5/11] There are reports of variants of the MACDefender trojan going around under the name “Mac Security” or “Mac Shield”. For the reversers, check out this reverse engineering of the MACDefender binary.
Apple has released several security updates which patch vulnerabilities in the way Mac OS X and iOS handle certificate trust. This comes off the back of the recent Comodo hack in which several fraudulent – yet valid – SSL certificates were created for a number of prominent websites, rendering users vulnerable to potential man-in-the-middle attacks. These updates (2011-002 and iOS 4.3.2/4.2.7) improve the way certificate verification is performed in OSX and iOS. The Safari 5.0.5 update patches two critical bugs which could result in remote code execution.
In other news: Updates to Safari in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” have shown that the browser will bring support for the new Do-Not-Track functionality, intended to give users the ability to opt-out from tracking by Third Party tracking and ad companies. Whether or not this functionality will be fully respected by third parties remains to be seen. Lastly, a tethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.2 has already been released.
Apple has released 10.6.7 and its first security patch of the year, 2011-001, fixing a large number of bugs and vulnerabilities. In particular it fixes a known graphics bug in the 2011 MacBook Pros. It also improves Back To My Mac connectivity and SMB (windows file sharing). From a security perspective it fixes issues in a number of components including the Kernel, Airport, ImageIO, and QuickTime, many of which potentially lead to remote code execution. This update also adds detection for the OSX.OpinionSpy spyware to Mac OS X’s built-in file quarantine.
It’s a fairly big update, so users are naturally advised to patch soon. Hit the jump for the full list of security issues fixed. Read more
With Google offering $20,000 for a Chrome sandbox exploit, Apple releasing fresh security updates, and the organisers allowing researchers to target mobile phone basebands, it was sure make for an interesting Pwn2Own contest at CanSecWest this year.
For the fifth year running, Pwn2Own invited security researchers to discover vulnerabilities and develop exploits for the most popular browsers on Mac OS X and Windows (for some reason Linux is left out this year). Traditionally IE, Firefox and Safari have gotten exploited, with Chrome being the last browser standing at last year’s competition. Google upped the ante by making it significantly more attractive to target their browser this year.
In short: Safari, Internet Explorer, iPhone and Blackberry were all successfully compromised. Chrome and Firefox survive. Hit the jump for the full details! Read more
This issue was a nice catch, discovered by Aaron Sigel who has a detailed explanation, video demo and proof-of-concept on his blog. It probably goes without saying, but Safari users should run Software Update as soon as possible.
In awesome day-before-just-to-try-and-screw-with-your-exploits style, Apple has released significant security patches for iOS, Safari and Apple TV. Safari, which is one of the targets at CanSecWest’s Pwn2Own contest where hackers come to demonstrate 0day exploits, has received an update to 5.0.4, and fixes over 62 bugs including major vulnerabilities in WebKit (eg. Errorjacking) and the ImageIO and libxml libraries.
iOS 4.3 patches largely the same issues in MobileSafari, as well as a remote code execution vulnerability in CoreGraphics. iOS is expected to get a lot of attention at Pwn2Own, with at least four researchers having developed exploits. Charlie Miller and Dionysus Blazakis (@dionthegod) have one exploit which doesn’t work on update, although allegedly the vulnerability hasn’t been patched yet.
Whether or not these updates thwart some of the exploits developed for Pwn2Own remains to be seen. It’ll be cool if it prevents at least one. Either way, good job to Apple for trying.
Update: Just found out that target iPhones at Pwn2Own won’t be running the latest iOS 4.3 which does indeed prevent a number of exploits. Here’s a recap of the Pwn2Own action.
Lastly, Apple TV has been updated to 4.2 to patch a couple not-so-critical vulnerabilities in libfreetype and libtiff that could allow code execution if a malicious image were opened.
Hi the jump for the long list of issues fixed in iOS 4.3. Read more
Apple has released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 4 and Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 9, patching a number of vulnerabilities in the Java virtual machine. The most serious of these may allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside of the Java sandbox. Users with Java installed should update soon. Those of you who don’t have Java don’t need to worry. If you’re unsure, just check Software Update.
Apple recently announced that the version of Java ported by Apple for Mac OS X has been deprecated. Starting in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, the Java runtime will no longer be installed by default, instead requiring users to install Oracle’s Java runtime should they require Java support. Apple also recently stopped bundling Flash with Mac OS X by default, with new MacBook Air and MacBook Pros shipping without Flash. The divesting of these two products will not only eliminate Java and Flash vulnerabilities on default installs of Mac OS X, it will allow users who install these apps to get updates quicker directly from Oracle and Adobe, instead of having to wait for Apple to release software updates.
Hit the jump for details of the Java update for 10.6.