Virus tries to take bite out of Apple's security
Attack remains low risk
By Daniel Sieberg
(CNN) -- The first Trojan horse virus to target Apple's latest operating system was discovered this week, and it appears to prey on the popularity of Apple's popular music service. However, it has not been released into the "wild" or on the Internet, and therefore remains low risk.
Trojan horse viruses typically open a secret door for hackers to exploit at a later time.
Macintosh security firm Intego received an e-mail copy of the virus on April 6, but stressed that it is not spreading through replication like a typical virus.
Intego dubbed it "MP3Concept" because of its "proof-of-concept" nature and because the malicious coding can be hidden within an attached MP3 music file. A modified version could also be inserted in other types of files, such as photos.
"We take this first Trojan very seriously," said Intego CEO Laurent Marteau. "This is very easy to modify and create a different version of the same problem."
Apple's operating system, Mac OS X, was released in early 2001, while Apple's iTunes music service was introduced in late 2003.
Double-clicking on the attached MP3 file launches the iTunes music program and simultaneously spawns the Trojan program in the background, said Marteau. But he added that it does not appear to be destructive except under certain computer settings. Intego stressed that this Trojan horse does not exploit any vulnerability in iTunes.
Security firm Symantec said Friday it was analyzing the virus for more details and agreed with the minimal damage level suggested by Intego.
Meanwhile, Apple said Friday that it's responding to the would-be threat and released the following statement:
"We are aware of the potential issue identified by Intego and are working proactively to investigate it. While no operating system can be completely secure from all threats, Apple has an excellent track record of identifying and rapidly correcting potential vulnerabilities."
Macintosh users have historically touted more robust security on Apple's machines. Security analysts also note that Apple retains less than 5 percent of the overall computer market, making it a much smaller target for hackers than Microsoft's Windows systems.