Mac flaw could let hackers get scrambled data

A Mac security expert has uncovered a technique that hackers could use to take control of Apple Inc computers and steal data that is scrambled to protect it from identity thieves.

Prominent Mac researcher Dino Dai Zovi disclosed the software flaw at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, one of the world's top forums for exchanging information on Internet threats.



About 4,000 security professionals are in attendance, including some who are really hackers. While experts ferret out software flaws to fix them and protect users, hackers use the same information to devise pranks or commit crimes.



It is not illegal to publish software that can be used to hack into computer systems, though it is against the law to use it to break into them.



Attacks on Apple computers are extremely rare, but security experts say that will change as Macs gain market share on PCs running Microsoft Corp's Windows operating system. Security experts have identified at least three viruses infecting Macs over the past year.



The most sophisticated of them is spread via pirated versions of Apple's iWorks software. It allows cybercriminals to take complete control of an infected Mac.



Another virus, OSXPuper a, is spread via infected websites that direct users to download what they say is a video player, but turns out to be malicious software. That software can subsequently download other types of viruses.



Dai Zovi, a security researcher and co-author of "The Mac Hacker's Handbook," said on Wednesday that once hackers start to put substantial resources into targeting Apple's computers, they will be at least as vulnerable as Windows machines.



"There is no magic fairy dust protecting Macs," he said in an interview.



The technique that Dai Zovi unveiled on Wednesday -- dubbed "Machiavelli" -- only works on machines that have already been victimized. It can take control of Apple's Safari browser, stealing encrypted data from a user's bank accounts.



An Apple spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Apple is the fourth-largest U.S. PC maker and continues to take market share. It held 9 percent of the U.S. market in the second quarter, according to Gartner.



"They are advancing. Our concern is that they are just not advancing as fast as they are gaining market share," said Charlie Miller, co-author of "The Mac Hacker's Handbook."



They said the Mac's operating system will be an easier nut to crack once hackers start to focus on it. That is because it has a lot more code in it than Windows, leaving room for more vulnerabilities and bugs that hackers can exploit.



While there is a limited supply of malicious software targeting Macs today, experts worry that the pendulum could quickly shift, leaving millions of Apple users unprotected.



"When the malware authors put out something that's really sophisticated we are going to have a whole population that is really vulnerable," said Joel Yonts, an expert in Mac security attending Black Hat.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created