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Mac OS X is Vulnerable to New Trojan

The growing popularity of social working is leaving devices and computers operating on Mac OS X increasingly vulnerable to tapeworms, viruses, Trojans and other kinds of Malware.

A java based Trojan called trojan.osx.boonana.a is infecting both Mac OS X and Windows based devices, website Ars Technica reports. The Trojan is getting into Apple devices through social networking applications such as Facebook. A security company called Secure Mac told the site that the Trojan hides in a Facebook message labeled “Is this you in the video?”

When a person takes the bait and opens the Facebook link it activates a Java applet. This applet lets the Trojan install a program that can bypass all of OS X’s security measures, Ars Technica reported. The security measures the program can get around include password verification.

If that wasn’t bad enough this Malware can actually crack user accounts and spread through Mac networks as spam. This means that trojan.osx.boonana.a could infect an entire Mac network or a Mac OS X server from one visit to Facebook.

Protecting Mac OS X Systems from Malware
It is known who created this Trojan but it looks like one of a new breed of sophisticated and destructive Trojans that appear to originate overseas. This new class of Malware could have been created by foreign governments or professional criminals for espionage and other nefarious purposes.

To protect their systems, Mac OS X users will now have to take the kind of security precautions that Windows users have long undertaken. In particular some organizations may have to limit the use of social networking at work.

Persons will have to be more careful in the messages and e-mails they receive. Regular updating of security software such as firewalls could help protect against such malware.
So will regular scans of the system for malware.

Monitoring of websites and the media for news about new Trojans and other kinds of Malware can also help Mac users learn what’s out there and take precautions. Apple itself will also undoubtedly release fixes to combat Malware and other security threats.

It professionals who work with Mac OS X will have to take more security precautions and pay much more attention to security measures. Internet searches on trojan.osx.boonana.a could help individuals find fixes to it.

What is Mac OS X?

Basically Mac OS X or Snow Leopard is the latest operating system for the Macintosh and other Apple Devices. Apple is the only computer company that has its’ own operating system. The other computer manufacturers use systems such as Microsoft Windows, Unix or Linux.

Mac OS X or Mac OS 10 is the latest version of the Mac operating system. Like Microsoft, Mac puts out a new version of its operating system on a regular basis. Each version of this system has the name of a different big cat. The last version released was Snow Leopard.

A major difference between Mac OS X and other operating systems is that OS X is based on Unix rather than Windows structures. This is why many Windows applications will not work on Apple products.

Mac OS X Server
Mac OS X is proprietary which means it can only be used on Mac products. Mac OS X has its own server, or Mac OS X server. This server enables Mac users to create networks of Macs with internal features such as mail transfer and a domain server. Mac OS X Server products come preloaded on Xserve Server hardware.

Mac OS Server looks just like the Mac OS desktop so it is fairly easy to use. It can be used to coordinate workgroups of Mac users. Mac OS Server can be run on the vast majority of Apple computers sold today.

Specialized Versions of Mac OS X
There are a number of specialized Mac OS X for the several difference Apple devices on the market today. There are Mac OS X systems for the iPad, IPod, IPod Touch and the new Apple TV product. Each of these systems is similar in architecture to the ones for the Macintosh and other Apple computers.

The Apple TV is a new device that allows people to download television programs and movies directly from the internet to their TV set. It is similar to devices being by Netflix and other companies. Although it doesn’t look like one the Apple TV is essentially a small computer connected directly to a TV set.

Given Apple’s legendary creativity is highly probable that specialized versions of Mac OS X for many other devices will appear in the years ahead. This means there is a very big and bright future for this operating system.

Mac OS X Users Facing More Security Threats

It looks like Mac OS X users are going to have to start taking all the kind of security precautions long familiar to Windows users. Malware is getting increasingly sophisticated and is now often capable of penetrating systems running on Mac S X.

The trojan.osx.boonana.a Java Trojan can penetrate Mac OS X systems through Facebook and install programs that can penetrate most of Mac OS X’s security. This Trojan is particularly bothersome because it can actually send copies of itself to other users on Mac OS X networks and servers.

This Trojan is only the latest example of a new breed of Malware that takes advantage of security holes in Mac OS X and other Apple systems. It is a perfect example of how sophisticated and powerful today’s Malware has become. From just one Facebook link this Trojan can get around Mac OS X’s security.

Unfortunately, trojan.osx.boonana.a is only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds perhaps even thousands of such malicious programs out there targeting Mac products. Many of these threats are unreported and some of them can lay dormant for weeks or even months.

Protecting Mac OS X from Malware
Mac users are going to have to take a wide variety of precautions to protect themselves from the new Malware. Like Windows users they may have to go to Apple on a regular basis for fixes and patches.

Installing a good anti-virus program and a firewall could also help Mac users. Another precaution to take would be to periodically run a search on Malware targeting Mac OS X. Then look for fixes and tips on how to keep it out.

There are some simple and basic precautions that anybody can take to protect themselves. Don’t open any strange e-mail or e-mail from anybody you don’t know. The same precaution should be taken with social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Another avenue of attack is Mac OS X devices such as iPads or iPods that could be connected to a Mac. Malware increasingly targets these devices because their security precautions are limited.

Organizations that use Mac networks would be well advised to keep employees from connecting such devices to office computers. Limiting such use can limit an organization’s exposure to Malware.

Will the Mac App Store Spell the End of Independent Software Development for Mac OS X?

The announcement that Apple is trying to create an operating system that makes it easier to add new programs and an online Mac App Store to sell software to the public undoubtedly has some developers worried.

There have already been blog posts and news stories that suggest Apple is trying to take total control of software creation for the Mac. This has been fueled by Apple’s recent decision to stop loading Adobe products on its new hardware. Independent developers may wonder if they have a place in the new future Steve Jobs is envisioning.

At this point it’s hard to say how the Mac App Store and the new Lion or Mac OS 10.7 operating system will have on independent designers. It should be noted; however, that it will still be possible to load non-Apple programs such as Adobe products onto Mac. Adobe has already announced that it will keep selling to the Mac market and has plans to offer automatic security updates for its products on Mac OS X systems.

Competing with Apple

This means that there still should be room for independent designers and programmers who want to tap the Mac market. It does mean; however, that they could increasingly be competing with Apple itself.

Jobs’ decision to launch the Mac App Store shows that Apple thinks software sales are a major revenue stream. Not surprisingly Steve Jobs and his ilk will fight to protect that revenue stream and try to push out smaller competitors.

Given Apple’s tremendous reputation with the media and aggressive marketing this could be difficult. It could also provide opportunities if Jobs creates some sort of mechanism for independent software creators to sell their designs through the App store.

This is Jobs’ current business model, he already sells music through the App store for iPod. It could be conceivable that independent designers could be able to tap the Apple market through the App store.

Whether Jobs will go this route or not is unknown. It should be noted; however, that there could be software applications; especially those for specialized business functions, that Apple doesn’t want to deal with. If that’s the case they may provide an avenue for independent designers and smaller software firms to sell their products through Mac App Store.

Will Steve Jobs Open Mac App Store to Independent Designers and Smaller Software Firms?

The big story in the world of Mac OS X and Mac users is not the launch of Lion but the advent of the Mac App Store. Steven Jobs has said publicly that a Mac App Store for Snow Leopard will be launched within 90 days and one for Lion is coming.

The Mac App Store is simply an e-commerce site where people could buy programs for Macs and other Apple products. It would function much like the I-phone App store for music but could sell some pretty complex software. The idea is that users would download the software directly and install it on computers.

This obviously doesn’t sound like groundbreaking technology to long time computer users but it could be a market changing development. If Jobs can get the public used to the idea of an online market for software like he’s done with an online market for music he could create an opportunity for designers and smaller firms.

App Store for Independents?

If Jobs is willing to open the Mac App Store to non Apple products he could create a big market for independent Mac OS X designers and programmers. In particular, it could provide a venue for independents to sell their products directly to computer users.

The problem with this scenario is that Apple has been pretty to outside software as of late. It has decided not to load Adobe Flash on its products for example. Instead Apple seems determined to sell as much of its products as possible. The reason for this decision is obvious it makes more for Apple.

App Store Liability

The big question then is will Apple set up some sort of revenue arrangement which will allow individuals to sell their products through the App Store? That would potentially be a big revenue stream for Apple but it could be fraught with problems.

There are security and legal concerns for example. Apple could be liable if somebody downloaded an App Store product that contained a virus that damaged their system or a Trojan that stole their files.

Apple would also be liable under American law for any damage to a computer or system by defective files from the App Store. This liability concerns could make it difficult Apple to expand App Store in the US.

One interesting point is that the App Store could get average people more used to the idea of downloading and installing software. This could lead the way for bigger software markets elsewhere.

Snow Leopard: Buying and Installing It

The good news is that it is really easy to find Snow Leopard Mac OS X and updates for it on line. A person who shops around on Amazon can get Snow Leopard 10.6 OSX update for as little as $29.

Mac OS X version 10.6.3 can be found for sale on Amazon. The standard price is $29 but there are some deals that can get a person this version for $25. These deals aren’t listed at Amazon but it’s a pretty good price anyway.

There’s also a family pack which is basically Snow Leopard for five computers. This would be a perfect solution for a family or for a small business. The Family pack is a really good deal because it’s currently selling for between $41 and $46 at Amazon.

There’s also a Mac Boxed Set that contains Snow Leopard, iLife and iWork disks. Amazon is offering some steep discounts on. It was selling for $111 when I checked even though the list price was $169. Some other distributors were selling the box set for as little as $94.

A newer version of the Mac Boxed Set with updated software is selling for about $129 at Amazon. This version would be perfect for somebody who is trying to set up a Mac. It could also be used to upgrade an older Mac.

The boxed set also features iMovie, iPhoto, Garage Band in iLife and Pages, Numbers and Keynote in iWork. Interestingly enough the versions of the iLife programs are for 2011 while the iWork programs are still in the 2009 version in the one currently being sold on Amazon.

Installing Snow Leopard

Any system with Mac OS X on it should be able to run Snow Leopard. Upgrading to Snow Leopard might not be that good of an idea; however, the latest version doesn’t run quite a bit of Adobe software because Apple isn’t loading Adobe products anymore.

Installing Snow Leopard would give people access to some of the latest Mac features including the Mac App Store which is designed to come online soon. How this program will work with older Macs running Snow Leopard remains to be seen.

There are some restrictions Amazon it appears that Amazon is only shipping the latest versions of Snow Leopard and the Boxed Set in the US.

Secrets of Mac OS X

As almost any Mac OS X veteran knows there are supposedly lots of secret features to Mac OS X. The truth of course is that most of these “secrets” aren’t really secrets they’re just rarely used or little known features most users don’t take advantage of.

There are quite a few websites out there that claim to contain lists of these secrets. Persons visiting these and looking for the secret features should be careful because not all of these are accurate or updated.

Another concern is security the claims about secret features could just be a clever ruse to let hackers and malware into your operating system. You should be leery any list of secrets that has instructions for changes to your security.

Something to remember is that Steve Jobs has prohibited hidden Apps and Easter Eggs. This means that any of them on Mac today could be illegal and could contain some sort of Malware.

In particular beware of any e-mail telling you how to install or open up a hidden Easter Egg or Secret. There’s a good chance it’s something nefarious trying to get in.

Easter Eggs

These are basically hidden programs that trigger a variety of screen effects. They’re not very useful but a lot of fun. It would probably be a good idea not to tell practical jokers about these because they would be a good practical joke.

My personal favorite is the “blue screen of death” a lot of Mac users switched to Apple because of that infuriating PC trait. Some evil genius out there has apparently figured out a way to add it to a Mac. To find this you will have to connect a Snow Leopard network to a non-Mac PC. An icon should appear under devices that looks like an old CRT with the blue screen of death on it. Click on this for your least favorite PC trait.

Most of the Easter Eggs aren’t allowed in later versions of Mac OS X like Snow Leopard. However, people are spending time developing them so look around.

You’ll probably need an older version of Mac OS X to run most Easter Eggs because they’re blocked out. There are however developers who put them in.

If you want some fun with Mac OS X you might try a few of these out.

More Information about Worm Targeting Mac OS X Users

More information about the worm or Trojan that’s targeting Mac OS X users through social networking sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter is now available. Computerworld is reporting that the worm now dubbed Boonana is a variant of the Koobface malware.

What Boonana Does

Koobface is a kind of Java based Malware that’s been attacking Windows based platforms for a couple of years. It enters the system through social networking sites usually Facebook. Boonana seems to be the first Koobface derived Malware specifically designed to target Apple products.

Boonana gets into Mac OS X systems when somebody clicks on a text message that asks “is this you in the video?” The friendly message contains a Java applet that contains files executable in Java Runtime Environment. The programs executed include an IRC that can take command of a computer, a keylogger features that steals names and passwords and a rootkit that hides it from security software.

Some reports indicate that Boonana can spread from Mac to Mac once it gets into a system. The purpose of this worm seems to be steal information including passwords.

The Threat to Mac OS X from Malware

The appearance of Boonana is a sign that hackers are increasingly targeting Mac OS X and other Apple systems. The bad guys are doing this because Apple users aren’t as used to dealing with viruses and taking security measures as PC users.

Mac OS X users and administrators had better get ready for a whole torrent of these worms. Another reason why Malware is targeting Mac is that there are only two Mac only security vendors Intego and SecureMac.

This means that Macs are the next frontier for the hackers. Many of whom are now exploiting the holes in social networking. Facebook in particular has had a hard time dealing with the Koobface and has even shut off accounts in attempts to keep it out.

One way to protect Mac systems from worms like Boonana could be to ditch Java which Mac OS X doesn’t need anymore. Java has quite a few holes that hackers and worms can exploit. Mac OS X used to contain a Java bundle but has dropped it probably from security concerns.

Getting rid of Java won’t protect Macs from Malware that doesn’t use Java.

How Secure Will the Mac App Store Be?

Apple’s next adventure in the world of e-commerce is the Mac App Store. This would be an online store that will sell programs for the Mac OS X operating system. It’s supposed to be available for Snow Leopard users within 90 days if Steve Jobs’ latest announcement is to be believed.

The big question about the Mac App Store is how secure will it be? This store will let users download some pretty big programs including Garage Band. Obviously such big files would make perfect hiding places for Trojans viruses and other kinds of Malware.

It wouldn’t be hard for the latest Trojans to sneak into Mac App Store files and get into systems.

Malware at the Mac App Store

This means that Mac App Store raises a whole host of security questions for networks and systems run on Mac OS X. What if an employee at a company that uses Mac OS X or Max server goes to the Mac App Store and downloads iPhoto for their laptop and it contains a Trojan?

The whole network could quickly get infected and every file could be compromised. This isn’t such a far fetched scenario. Media reports indicate that there are now Trojans that can infect Mac OS X and IOS systems through Facebaook. It wouldn’t be hard for the hackers who thought those nasty things up to create something that sneaks in through Mac App Store.

Companies that use Mac systems might have to block out Mac App Store in order to keep this from happening. Individuals who buy software through Mac App Store including IT pros might also face this issue.

Hackers are Getting Better is Apple Up to the Job

Something to remember is that hackers have been able to break some pretty complex security systems. A target the size of the Mac App Store is going to be irresistible to hackers. This means it will only be matter of when not if Mac App Store’s security gets cracked and Malware gets distributed through it.

Indeed the distribution of big files to thousands or millions of customers all over the world seems like a perfect platform for hackers. It’s going to be interesting to see how Apple will protect it from them.

It might also be noted that keeping hackers out could be impossible because of the number of them and the resources available to them. Recent media reports indicate that foreign governments are spending millions developing new kinds of Malware designed to penetrate any security system.

The Stuxnet Trojan that recently penetrated industrial operating systems through flaws in Windows is a perfect example of this kind of attack. Internet speculation is that Israeli spies created it to sabotage Iran’s nuclear weapons program. With that kind of thing out there it’s hard to see how the App Store will be kept secure.

Apple Keeping Lion Under Wraps for Now

It looks like people who want to see what Lion, Apple’s latest version of Mac OS X or Mac OS X 10.7, will look like will have to wait until next Summer. The latest word from Apple HQ in Cuppertino, California, is that the roll out of the next generation operating system will occur sometime in Summer 2011.

Steve Jobs did hold a big press conference at the corporate offices on October 20 but only a little was said about Lion. The online buzz was that Jobs was planning to unveil Lion at the conference. These rumors were sparked by Apple announcements that featured an image of a Lion.

Instead Jobs used the conference to push Apple’s latest notebook the Macbook Air. The Air has attracted a lot of buzz because it’s lightweight and good looking. It has also attracted attention because it is the first Apple computer in a long time not to use Adobe Flash.

Apple Bringing Software in House

The lack of Flash on the Air is a clear sign that Apple is trying to bring all of its software creation in house. The thinking behind is that Apple can make a lot of money selling software through its Mac App Store.

On Oct. 20, Jobs told reporters that a Mac App Store for Snow Leopard will be up and running within ninety days. The Mac App Store is a web site where visitors would be able to buy software and download straight to a Mac by pointing and clicking on it. The basic idea is to provide one stop shopping for software for Mac users who don’t have access to an IT department.

Mac App Store Basis of Lion

It is a pretty safe bet that Mac OS 10.7 will be based around the Mac App Store when it finally appears. Downloadable software applications are already a huge business that will only get bigger.

Jobs is figuring that people used to downloading music and movies will also download software. He’s also thinking that an easy to use Mac App Store will be a major cash cow for Apple.

Such plug and play software fits right in with Apple’s business model which is to make computer technology easy to use for people with little technical knowledge. A large percentage of Apple’s customer base is composed of writers, artists and other creative types who have to use computers in their jobs but have little or no background in technology.