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Hackers turn Macs into attack systems

Online criminals have targeted Apple Mac computers, creating what is thought to be the first Mac-based botnet. Users seeking pirated versions of Apple's iWork '09 suite of office software may find that they receive more than they expect.

Security company Symantec has discovered a Trojan version of the software on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that includes spyware. This malicious addition can make unauthorised changes to the computer, whether it is a PowerPC or x86-based Mac. Once infected, the computer will attempt to connect to servers controlled by the criminals.

Symantec guesses that, due to the harsh economic climate, increasing numbers of people will be tempted to pirate software. The company has also found a variant of the same Trojan included with a ripped-off version of Adobe Photoshop CS4. The company notes that, without any security software installed, Mac users will not know that their computers are infected.

Infected systems may be controlled remotely by the criminals, who can issue commands to millions of compromised systems simultaneously. These systems can form giant illegal networks, known as botnets, which can be used to steal personal information from the legitimate owners, launch attacks against other computer systems and perform numerous other criminal activities.

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