The ecosystem of Apple’s Mac OS has long been heralded as a safe haven from the world of digital threats, and while its users were never immune to common phishing scams, they were largely in the clear from infiltration by most malware.
In reality, the supposed invulnerability in Macs had less to do with anything unique about their software than their relative rarity on the market. When hackers or malware experts seek to infect computers and allow their code to spread from machine to machine, they focus their efforts on the operating systems with the widest reach. In the early 2000s, when Apple put renewed vigor into their marketing and advertising campaigns, their computers had such a fractionally small percentage of worldwide market share that they simply weren’t an attractive target. Even today, with all the emphasis on Microsoft losing market share to Apple, 2016 data still indicates that Apple has sold only 7.4 percent of the computers in 2016. As such, they historically haven’t been an especially lucrative target for hackers and are still a bit away from the mainstream.
Recently, that immunity may have begun changing as a new bit of malware was discovered. Named “Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor,” it’s installed while hidden within the seemingly innocuous Easy Doc Converter program that helps change Microsoft Office documents into other file formats. While it’s not uncommon for friendly software to have an unannounced stowaway, this file converter is available through otherwise reputable sites, allowing its creators to prey on unsuspecting individuals who let their guard down while browsing.
Once installed, Eleanor exploits a tool called “wacaw,” which grants access to the computer’s webcam, allowing it to capture images and videos of users and their surroundings without their knowledge. What the hackers plan to do with these images is largely unknown. But it’s safe to assume that the results would be similar to other blackmail-esque ransomeware scams, in which the hackers wait for a compromising photo to be taken and threaten to release it — or other private information — in exchange for money.
While this isn’t the first time Mac users have been exposed to potential threats, the relative simplicity of this sort of exploit is what makes it so effective. Rather than scanning drives or logging keyboard entries for financial information, the real danger here is in what the camera captures. While many computer owners have opted to proactively cover their camera when not in use, those with Apple’s Gatekeeper security package should remain unscathed as well, as the file converter program doesn’t possess a digitally signed certificate from Apple.
Alary Clinitech is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology tips, tricks and news. Contact us at (416) 291-7377 or send us an email at email@example.com for more information.
Thanks for helping us upgrade our Macs and get them working exactly as our business needs! Fast, convenient and very knowledgeable! You’re the best!
Alary Technologies has been our IT support team for the past year at the START Clinic for Mood and Anxiety Disorders. They have done a excellent job in upgrading our system, organization, and supporting us in technical computer matters. Compared to other IT companies we have worked with, Alary Technologies comes on top. Ahmed Kufaishi the Managing Director at Alary Technologies is solution focused, knowledgeable and makes an effort to really understand his clients’ needs. It has been a pleasure to work with Ahmed and Alary Technologies. I would recommend their services to other companies and clinics.
“We continue to work with Alary Technologies due to the fact that they are quite educated and knowledge based with current upgrades, and their commitment to their customers.”
Ahmed has been providing our company with expert IT services for close to 3 years. He has guided us through hardware upgrades, server back up procedures and was instrumental in brokering a custom software program that fully automated some key functions in our business. Ahmed has always been thoroughly professional in all his dealings with us and has provided consistent and sound advise for all of our IT requirements. We consider Ahmed and Alary Technologies to be an important partner for our business.
It is refreshing to work with someone who can organize things and describe in plain language. I have a large and growing knowledge base for my work as an architect. I have realized that I can’t do everything, that I do need a team member who can look after this one relatively small by crucial part of my practice.