November 27, 2006 6:10 PM PST

Adware sample targets Mac OS X

A new adware program silently installs on Mac OS X systems and opens Web browser windows, according to F-Secure.

The program, dubbed iAdware by the Finnish security company, is possibly the first example of adware for Macs. It is especially interesting since it doesn't require administrative privileges to nestle itself on the computers, according to F-Secure.

"We won't disclose the exact technique used here, it's a feature not a bug, but let's just say that installing a System Library shouldn't be allowed without prompting the user," according to the F-Secure blog on Thursday.

The program is a proof-of-concept sent to F-Secure and it is not out targeting users on the Internet.

"In theory, this program could be silently installed to your user account and hooked to each application you use," according to the F-Secure blog. "This particular sample successfully launched the Mac's Web browser when we used any of a number of applications."

Malicious software that targets Mac OS X systems is rare and has been limited largely to proof-of-concept code, instead of actual attacks. However, there are indications that hackers are increasingly targeting the Mac, which experts have said is not impervious to attacks.

For example, as part of a campaign called the Month of the Kernel Bugs, several new flaws have been disclosed in Apple Computer software, the latest on Monday in the AppleTalk protocol. Last week, exploit code was released for another yet-to-be-fixed flaw in Mac OS X related to disk image structures.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

See more CNET content tagged:
F-Secure Corp., adware, Apple Mac OS X, Apple Mac OS, Apple Macintosh


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See.. Mac's have "Features" too
Wow, too bad that no one makes any anti-spyware programs for the mac, and 9 out of 10 mac users dont use virus scanners.. All you Mac-Zealots, and Windows-Haters.. This article makes me smile.
Posted by explorer5 (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
if that makes you smile...
you indeed have no life at all. Unix has holes, Windows has holes,
Linux has holes, Mac OS X has holes, we all have holes, the issue is
folks running around creating "proof of concept scenarios"
spending literal weeks to make sure that their idea works if you do
this and that in just this way at this time and bam, you can take
over a system. They and you, need to get a life.
Posted by biggstuu (281 comments )
Link Flag
I think your view that all mac users are zealots and windows
haters is rather outdated. I've been a mac user all my life and
have never toted invincibility as a way that OS X is better than
windows. I think you'll find long time mac users like the OS
because of simple preference, because Apple is the underdog,
and because Microsoft seems to just miss on just about
everything it does. Recent switchers are looking for a breath of
fresh air. That ego is somehow a part seems to me to be more a
boogieman of the windows blogger.

And everyone is curious to see where the companies go in the
future, especially with the gradual retirement of the founding
fathers of personal computing. This article is a mixed blessing.
Weakness is never good, but maybe companies will wise up and
develop security software for the mac platform. All of you
Windows-Hater-Haters... These comments make me smile.
Posted by Taenon (24 comments )
Link Flag
"See... Mac's have "features" too
Oh sounds like some poor windows boy spends too much time
restarting his computer, and removing viruses.
Well listen here mate, I have a Mac, and I have no anti- virus/
software installed what so ever. Not because no one makes them
for mac, but because I don't NEED them. If you really think that
this silly bug is gonna make Mac users scurry around for Virus
protection, then think again.

PS There is anti virus software for mac, but whoever makes them
is probably not doing to good!!
Posted by zalmy (1 comment )
Link Flag
No one makes anti-virus for mac?
Really?? Are you serious???

I think you should research your comments a bit more. I'm not a
windows hater or a mac zealot, but you, sir, are wrong.
Posted by thatxbxtchxnicoll (46 comments )
Link Flag
Mac antivirus
There's not a lot of need for Macs to run antivirus until someone
comes up with a virus for macs.

Scanning a Mac for Windows viruses is just a waste of time.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
RE: See.. Mac's have "Features" too
I feel sorry for anyone who delights in something like this, be they
Windows, NIX, or OS X user. All this proves is something I have
always maintained, that there is no such thing as a completely
secure OS. And while I must admit I dislike Windows I do have it
installed on one of my systems here.

And if you are looking for zealots you have to look no further than
the closet windows forum. They are to be found in any OS.
Posted by protagonistic (1868 comments )
Link Flag
No need for antivir
We never had the need to use anti -virus -spyware or -addware
until we have some. Back in the pre-osX days we had some worms
(9) but for every one there was an easy and free solution so even
then we didn't use Norton or others except when we wanted to
corrupt the system. :/
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Link Flag
See... Mac-Haters don't think so good.
Wow, too bad running spyware requires that a user actually go out of their way to download and install the thing on a Mac. All you Mac-Haters and Windows-Zealots... The reactions to this article makes me smile ;)
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
LOL! He didn't even read the article!
LOL! He didn't even read the article!

Or he doesn't know how to read well! This isn't even a threat, let
alone a problem.
Posted by TREKDEN (7 comments )
Link Flag
Where's the beef?
Show us something that's for real, not just words and threats.
Posted by CBSTV (780 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The point
The Point is: Macs aren't invulnerable and invincible.

The main reason this is the exception, not the norm, is the small market share of Apple computers. Why would an adware firm create a program that would only reach 2% of their target audience?

You can feel safe with your mac so long as too many people don't "make the switch".
Posted by airwalkery2k (117 comments )
Link Flag
Real threat please
Can we actually have a real threat to Mac OS X in the wild, please?

I want to be able to download this threat so I can see for myself how dangerous it is. This--in the laboratory--stuff is way to meaningless.

Posted by davebarnes (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Point... but....
That is precisely why advertisers would want to target Mac OSX, however I don't *think* the Mac Market share is *quite* at that figure you suggest.
Posted by zizdodrian (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
market share has nothing to do with security.

Windows gets attacked everyday for 1 reason: it is stupid easy to do it.

Old macs had viruses and a smaller market share.

Apache has ~70% market share, yet is not close to having the most exploits.

Too bad your theory is based on computer illiteracy.

Go ahead, clutter your PC with AV and AS software and think that is a better solution.

MS thrives on morons like you.

wake me up when someone cames up with something that can thrive in the real world on OSX
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is a so-called proof of concept and is not targeting anyone on
the internet. End of story.

Good night.
Posted by hal Summers (80 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a Sample!
What is announced is just a sample which does not mean a threat
so far! The new OS is coming soon... do you think that Mac will
permit such samples to live within the generationsof the OS?! I
don't think so...
Posted by tamer Abu Shahla (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Hopefully they won't
"do you think that Mac will permit such samples to live within the generationsof the OS?"

Actually, if was in the wild, it would be a serious threat. The ability to silently install something onto your computer without administrator rights is no joking matter. What bothers me is that the method uses what is described as a "feature". Features are build that way intentionally and I hope they do not include it in any future releases... but being that it was described as a feature probably means apple intends to continue it as such (and not even fix it for the current version either).
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Welcome Mac
Does this mean that Mac has gained enough market share that it is actually becoming a target of hackers?

Chock this up as a milestone of Apple getting successful. Now let's see how things go when and actual virus is released in the wild and compare the results with the current world champion; Windows.

If this continues, then the only thing left may be the pretty little GUI to stand out with.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What it means is that 'security companies' are scared.
They're so scared that they're calling inane schemes they've come
up with viruses and spyware in the hopes of scaring users. This
'malware', like all the others previously announced, will not affect
any Mac users outside the small group 'testing' it for these
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Things like this is already out there.
Thing is, mac users are just too unsophisticated to know the difference between adware slow down and just a plain old slow mac. This is why there's NO mac infections. They don't run anti-virus software to tell them when there is one.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thing is
You have no clue what you are talking about.
First, Independent assessments, demographic surveys etc. have
REPEATEDLY shown that in general mac users are better
educated and are in higher income brackets.
Second, you should probably point that finger a little closer to
home, seeing as you haven't even mastered subject verb
agreement in English, as in there "are" no mac infections, not
there "is."
Third, the reason that there are no mac virus infections is quite
simply because there are no OSX viruses.
As for sophistication, I'll pit my knowledge of Windows against
your knowledge of OSX any day. In fact, I'll pit my knowledge of
Windows against your knowledge of WINDOWS any day.
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
This is a feature?
From the story: "We won't disclose the exact technique used here, it's a feature not a bug"

That's funny. Microsoft has used that same excuse concerning active x. What concerns me the most is that it can install silently and doesn't require administrative rights. From a security standpoint, that's just not acceptable, even if it was built that way intentionally.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: This is a feature?
"What concerns me the most is that it can install silently and doesn't require administrative rights."

That is what I take away from this article. If it accurate then someone at Apple has taken a "Microsoft" attitude about the relative importance of security versus convenience. Although Apple has had excellent results from their decisions about security, that does not mean they could not lose it by making poor decisions today and in the future. It is too early to panic but Apple needs to hear critical response if they do try to cut corners as the article implies.
Posted by Steve Bryan (92 comments )
Link Flag


Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Posted by rivsys (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adware Doesn't Make Sense on Macs
Mac users spend too much of their life savings on a Mac to have enough left over to buy anything else...

Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And the score is
Windows 150,000 plus (for viruses, torjans, worms, adware) Mac 0 (for anything in the wild). What's more, there is still no such thing as a drive by infection or a remote, userfree infection like there is on Windows.

A challenge - run your PC for 1 day without virus checking, adware protection and a firewall as most Mac users do and see how pure it remains.
Posted by MadKiwi (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Macs aren't impervious
Macs, like it or not, are not the os in the bubble, they can get attacked just like others. This may be even easier since nobody at apple is taking time to fix potential problems or make firewall, etc.

Just in response to the PC challenge thing, I have run my PC with high speed connection without firewall, virus scan, etc for the past 4 months straight (I got tired of mcafee's new system giving me pop-ups all the time). I ran a scan yesterday and i had 1 potentially unwanted program, a windows service update.

If anybody is that concerned about viruses, they should switch to Linux/unix because they have *free* firewalls, virus scanners, and other security features, plus they have fewer viruses than macs. Windows:mac as mac:Linux. Bugs are also fixed faster than with either microsoft or apple.

Not only do macs have viruses, but apple charges outrageous prices for almost identical hardware as pc's (just a chipset or two and the BIOS). With a PC, if you don't want to pay the "microsoft tax" then you don't have to. Most linux versions are free. (They do make linux for mac but try buying a new mac without an os and you will be dissapointed) Linux also has the ability to run windows based programs if you so want to, but there is a FOSS alternative to just about everything you could ever want.
If you are sold on linux, check these out for more info: (Fedora Core project, sponsored by Red Hat) ( is a slightly different version. Both are excellent) (opensuse, novell's community based distibution) (Very windows-like) (long-standing community distro)

There are many others but these have made efforts to be beginner-friendly.
Posted by shldvebnacwby (37 comments )
Link Flag
chill, we all need security
These discussions are getting way too heated to be productive.
We dont really need to be here 'keyboard yelling' at the tops of
our lungs about who has the better and more secure system. If I
wanted a windows PC, I would have gone out and bought one. If
someone else wanted a mac, they could have done the same
thing. You like what You like, I like what I like, so lets just blog
about the issues at hand.
any piece of software can (theoretically) be compromised. Be it
Windows or Apple. go out, get a good antivirus software and
check for updates regularly. Set your security systems on high
(or whatever) and back up regularly.
I use a mac. Im pretty secure in the system that I use, but Im
also pretty much on the look out for things that will compromise
my system.
So instead of trying to bash each other about who is running the
better machine (I will keep my opinion out of it), why not agree
that the hackers are the bogey men for all of us!
(yikes31 offers a fig leaf of peace to windows and mac users out
there, that they might put down their keyboards of war that they
are waging on each other!)
Posted by yikes31 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's not what Apple fanboys try to sell, though.
Thank you for being probably one the first Mac users with a constructive, non-ignorant, unbiased opinion about a Mac-related story I've had the pleasure to read.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Could this talkback forum be any more ANNOYING
I am assuming that they only put one comment per page in an
effort to force me to read more ads. I can't imaging why else.

However, I'm done. I find it painfully annonying to have to click
to another page to read the next comment.

I'm done. I'll get my user feedback elsewhere.

Anyone else feel this way. Post you comments here. Maybe,
doubtful, but maybe they'll listen.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get Firefox 2.0
It has an image filtering feature that allows you to block images from advertising networks (e.g.
Posted by hugh23920 (12 comments )
Link Flag
Sorry, but I have to call this BS!
Nothing gets installed to my library without my notification. It
just doesn't slip through no matter how much the Apple haters
want it to.

It's a simple little feature of OSX called "Folder Alerts". Anytime
a file is added to my "Library" folder, a pop-up window alerts
me. I can investigate anything that seems inappropriate.

So even if I have a syupid moment and fall for a "Social
Engineering" attack, OSX never lets me down.

I can tell OSX to alert me for many actions for any folder I

Thanks Apple. I love you guys!

Picture of "Folder Alerts": <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by kreshwolf (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Macs don't get viruses
They just get proof-of-concept codes, high-risk vulnerabilities, zero-day flaws, attack codes, attacks, exploits and adware.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL! Windows users are hilarious!
The reason I say Windows users are so funny is because I USED

I made the switch to Mac last december with a bottom of the line
iBook. Thats all it took to know I would never go back to a PC.
Those who say OSX is flawed by design, and is no more secure
the Windows, are just silly. They clearly only know what they
read and have little or no hands on experience working with a
Mac, especially on the technical side.

Apple will have to deal with an increasing threat, who cares
about the numbers and percentages. As far as I'm concerned
everything is in the hands of God and statistics mean nothing
anyway. However, Apple has a much tighter operating system to
gaurd from malware and viruses! I have worked in development,
and have held the title of Director of Information Security at
large datacenters.

I know first hand that the reliability and security of OSX is
incredible, although as with all things it is subject to change. I
can only speak on what has been and what is, not what will be.
Posted by TREKDEN (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow! Mac Users are blinded by the White!
I've used Windows for 12 years, Linux for 6, OS X since 10.0. Im not impressed at all with the Mac (and let me say, I get all the latest and greatest Macs and Displays) in no way shape or form (i am forced because of my work to use a Mac and go to MacWorld and WWDC every year). I was incredibly appalled by the way the entire Apple camp bashed Windows and Microsoft at WWDC 06. It was distasteful and made Steve and the gang look as if they had no class whatsoever, which in turn, made me want to stand up in the middle of the crowd, chunk my POS Mac Book Pro onto the stage and tell SJ to Suck a fat one. 10.5 will be the best OS X release to date. But personally, I'd rather use Windows XP/Vista. There are just so many simple little things about the Mac that I just cant stand. For me its the little usability features that grab me the most. Customization of the OS itself is just plain not available on the Mac without 3rd party tools. Although I have had plenty of negative experiences with OS X, It does have its strengths, but its just not enough for my daily routine. As far as security goes, I wouldnt ever claim Windows to be more secure than OSX, far from it. But that doesnt mean that it cant be as secure with a little tweak here and there, and as far as reliability goes. They are both on par. OS X just seems more ostentatious than anything. As if its pretending to be something its not. I am a huge fanatic of the UNIX shell, so I use it more for that than anything. All in all, I think all modern OSs are bad ass. I have Vista running exclusively on my MacBookPro. Some OSs just do things better than others. They all have holes and they will all be exploited at some point in time. When is the question. As far as the market share argument goes, to some degree, Apple is not a target because of there miniscule market share, but I dont think that will keep some schmuck from creating malicious code that targets it.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
Up until about a month ago I was a Windows user. I switched to a
Mac &#38; I will never spend another dime on Windows again! I haven't
had to scream and/or hit my iMac since I've had it. Show me a
Windows user who has done the same. I'm not trying to get the
whole world to switch because different people need different
things out of their OS....But DAMN do I love my Mac!!!!!!
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Link Flag
Devolution at its finest??
While it seems like there is a lot of highly educated comments, articles, etc; it seems that every article written inevitably gets to a Microsoft vs Apple bashing session.
I'm tired of the idiots constant saying this is better than that, my OS is better, this OS has more holes/exploits than's childish.

We've grown away from the concept of the personal computer, it creates a platform for creation and communication. I don't care what OS you're running, I care about what you're doing with that OS. What content/application/database/automation/design/creative thing are you starting and completing? To hell with your security features and bells and whistles.
Until you do something with that machine you're simply being taken advantage of by clever marketing companies who've probably indicated what you needed your entire life (materialistic Americans at their finest).

If you're bashing one OS or another you better be a developer otherwise you're about as lame as a child rapist.
Posted by brilo (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Further devolution for you, brilo
"If you're bashing one OS or another you better be a developer
otherwise you're about as lame as a child rapist."

What kind of wacko makes a statement like this? Someone who is
exactly what they claim to despise. You are a true idiot.

People respond to BS posts to try to help rid the world of fear,
uncertainty, and doubt, and you, sir, have added nothing to the
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
This comment brought to you by&
Keep in mind that the above comment was made by someone who
believes that WiFi is a term of Hawaiian origin and that the
technology was invented in Hawaii.

Clue: WiFi was not even invented in this country, continental or
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag

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