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Report Examines Code Behind Crisis Trojan Targeting Mac OS X

Towards the end of July, anti-Malware vendor Intego broke the story of Crisis, the name given to a Trojan that targets Mac OS X. On Friday, ThreatMetrix, a provider of technologies that help organizations combat fraud and malware, published a report that breaks the code down, and examines the internals of the latest so-called threat targeting Mac users.

The first thing ThreatMetrix discusses in its report on Crisis, is what many researchers, and thanks to the coverage on the Malware itself the public at large, already knew: Crisis targets OS X 10.6 and 10.7, but it will not run on 10.8 (Mountain Lion) without modification.

Mac OS X MalwareIt’s interesting to note however, that if a system is attacked, the Kernel driver that is created post-infection appears to be designed to work on OS X 10.5, 10.6, and 10.7. So the creators seem to have been working at this code for a while in some regards, or they have targeted the parts of the Kernel that have remained consistent over time.

Calling it a complex piece of Malware, ThreatMetrix discovered that Crisis can be used to take screenshots on the infected host, as well as copy address book entries, calendar events, capture webcam images, down / upload files, record sound, copy the clipboard, monitor Skype chats, and website traffic (log what sites were visited).

“This is a complex piece of software, with several different components and many features. It is going to take more time to fully understand every piece, but, at this stage, we can definitely say that OS X malware has taken the next step,” the report concludes. 

The one thing the ThreatMetrix report doesn’t mention is how Crisis was discovered.

The malware itself wasn’t actively targeting users, and it wasn’t discovered in the wild. Crisis, which remains something far less than its name suggests, was discovered in a malware submission queue on VirusTotal.

Every security firm in the world who has a tie to the Virus Total submission list got a copy of Crisis. It would appear that the authors submitted it in order to see how well (or poorly) it was detected. Now that it has been processed by most of the security firms in the market – including Apple – it’s going to have a hard time making itself a true threat.

What Crisis represents, which is what ThreatMetrix seemed to be going for in their report, is that malicious coders are attempting to develop malware for Macintosh that mirrors the abilities of what is already available for the PC.

The entire report can be found here.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.