Trojan hides in pirated copies of Apple's iWork '09

Malware hitchhikes on iWork installer, hijacks Macs, says security firm

Pirated copies of Apple Inc.'s new iWork '09 application suite that are now available on file-sharing sites contain a Trojan horse that hijacks Macs and leaves them open to further attack, a security company said yesterday.

The "iServices.a" Trojan hitchhikes on iWork '09's installer, said Intego, an Austin-based company that specializes in Mac security software. "The installer for the Trojan horse is launched as soon as a user begins the installation of iWork, following the installer's request of an administrator password," Intego said in a warning published Wednesday.

Once installed, the Trojan "phones home" to a malicious server to notify the hacker that the Mac has been compromised, and to await instructions. Intego did not spell out what second-stage actions the iServices.a Trojan takes but noted that they could include delivering additional malware to the hijacked machine.

Intego said that iWork '09 download traffic on file-sharing sites has been brisk, claiming that as of early Wednesday, 20,000 copies had been downloaded. "The risk of infection is serious, and users may face extremely serious consequences if their Macs are accessible to malicious users," the company's alert continued.

Users on Pirate Bay, a popular BitTorrent tracking site, confirmed that copies of iWork '09 harbored the Trojan. "I can confirm that this contains a iServices trojan," said a user identified as "Aklacat" in a comment appended to one iWork '09 listing on Pirate Bay. "Little Snitch also confirms this," said Aklacat, referring to a Mac-only personal firewall.

According to the dates assigned to Pirate Bay's iWork '09 BitTorrents, most copies were posted before Apple announced it had dropped a form of copy protection from retail copies of the suite. On Monday, Apple said that it was not including serial numbers with iWork '09, an antipiracy measure it had used to keep customers from copying earlier versions of the bundle.

Apple unveiled iWork '09 at Macworld Conference & Expo on Jan. 6 when it touted changes and additions to Pages, the suite's word processor, and Numbers, its spreadsheet application.

IWork '09 retails for $79. Apple also offers a free 30-day trial version that does require a serial number -- delivered via e-mail at the time of payment -- in order to run as a fully functional version.

Mac-only malware is such a relative rarity that Apple has publicly mocked Microsoft Corp. about the number of worms, viruses and Trojans that take aim at the Windows operating system. Late last year, in fact, when Apple revised an online recommendation that Mac users consider running antivirus software, the move drew lots of attention.

FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: IT Certification Study Tips
Editors' Picks
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies