There used to be an idea that Macs were totally safe from the computer virus, but that is no longer the case.
Security company Bitdefender frequently writes about its research into the technologically unknown, and this week it has a bit of a doozy as Mac OS is revealed to be the target of cybercriminals, with a recent spot of malware that can do some serious damage with the theft of critical information.
It’s a problem Windows users have had to deal with for ages, with security software one of those must-have pain points of owning a computer.
Mac users have long had a bit of the upper-hand, and in fairness to Apple, the company tends to be more proactive at removing the ability for security exploits to take advantage of the flaws in its MacOS operating system, but this week, a recent form of malware has shown that it might prove a real problem for Apple computers.
Discovered as “Xagent”, it’s a form of malware made for Mac OS that is linked to a group that was accused of interfering with the 2016 US elections.
Different from an election manipulator, the Xagent malware targets Mac users with what Bitdefender describes is an advanced backdoor exploit that can steal passwords, take screenshots, and capture phone backups stores on an infected Apple computer.
According to analysis by Bitdefender, the tiny piece of software can scan a computer for information about what’s inside the computer, taking that list and grabbing other files, while also working to capture iPhone backups, too.
“The discovery of the XAgent module once again reinstates the need for organisations to tackle computer security in an unified manner, regardless of the operating system mix they have deployed,” said Bogdan Botezatu, Senior Threat Analyst at Bitdefender.
“Missing out on Macs or mobile phones because they are “inherently secure” gives determined attacks the one opportunity they need to subvert individual devices and take over entire networks to exfiltrate information for months, if not years,” he said.
Bitdefender’s Tiberius Axinte documented the malware, but the security organisation hasn’t performed in-depth analysis as of yet, and continues to investigate the extent of the malware made for Macs.
What this issue does highlight, however, is the need for security software on every affected platform, and while Windows and Android are frequently the targets, so too is Mac OS.
Seriously, there’s no way around this, folks: if you have a computer, you need security software.