The old "install this codec to see free porn" trick works on Mac too!

The old "install this codec to see free porn" trick works on Mac too!

Summary: It seems that this old trick for fooling Windows users to download and install malware on their PCs is now working on Mac users. Why? Because with 50% of new Macs being sold to people who used to run Windows, the OS might have changed, but the bad habits haven't.

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It seems that this old trick for fooling Windows users to download and install malware on their PCs is now working on Mac users. Why? Because with 50% of new Macs being sold to people who used to run Windows, the OS might have changed, but the bad habits haven't.

Note: I wouldn't be surprised that someone, somewhere, hasn't already tried clicking on the OK above to get their free porn ...

The OS, any OS, is only as strong as as the weakest link, and while many people think that the biggest threat to their PC is malware and hackers, the truth is far more mundane than that. The main threat to most PCs (and the data that they contain) is that human element that resides between the keyboard and chair - the user. Just as you have people who actually believe and respond to spam email, there are people who will click on anything, many times blindly, to try to achieve their end goal. "Do you want to download this?" Yes. "Do you want to install that?" Yes. "Do you want to delete the other?" Yes. Yes, Yes, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!

Note: Let's also not forget that some people use "viruses" as a scapegoat. I've come across countless examples where someone will swear up and down that there's a "virus" or "hacker" that's "controlling" their system and causing bad things to happen (such as deleting a file) when it's clearly the result of their own actions.

While I don't believe for one moment that the Mac OS is 100% hacker- and malware -proof, I've yet to see a credible, in-the-wild example of a drive-by compromise of the OS. But that in no way makes the OS immune. Why bother hammering away at small cracks in the castle wall when you can be invited in at the gate. It's worked on Windows for years.

Note: I think that it's worth making the point that many Windows security issues come down to user issue (running the wrong thing, or fiddling with settings they don't understand) or a vulnerable third-party application. However, I will admit that I feel that the direction that Microsoft took with UAC does help encourage users to click OK or Continue of dialog boxes just to make them go away.

The biggest threat to Mac right now as the users, especially those who have migrated to the platform from Windows. Of this group, the subset to really keep an eye on are those people who couldn't take care of the Windows OS, trashed it with malware, and think that the Mac OS will somehow magically clean up after them no matter what they do. It won't.

Here's a question - how can Apple put an emphasis on security without making the OS seem like it's the weak link?

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Malware, Operating Systems, Security, Windows

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  • Now it's the Windows switchers to be blamed...

    ...ya, sure. Steverino? Never. That would be haram.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • This is kinda how we got the Consumer Products Safety Commission....

    Old tech tried the same argument with machines that
    maimed and killed workers. It's the user's fault!
    Fortunately, computers just maim and kill data though
    there are real world impacts. Bringing the computing
    power of today to so many people has been an impressive
    achievement, clearly as far reaching as the industrial
    revolution. The Mac has always been safer and easier for
    the user but we're not at the end of the road for either
    platform. Protecting users from themselves while providing
    them freedom and power is one of many goals for the
    computing industry to follow into the future.
    palmwarrior
    • The Mac is not 'safer and easier'

      In fact, I have had HARDER times trying to find the way to do things on Apple systems than I have on Windows systems, dating back to Windows 3.1 days.
      Lerianis
      • The Mac is clearly not "safer and easier"....

        if you turn the monitor upside down, put the whole thing
        on the floor of a cave, fill the cave with poisonous snakes,
        and then provide a comparison Windows machine in a
        standard office environment. However, if you don't stack
        the deck with some ridiculous hypothetical situation, the
        Mac is safer and easier to use than a Windows machine for
        the casual user. There is an opportunity cost to learning
        how to do anything different than the way you're already
        doing it. I started using computers while Bill Gates was still
        in college and I've been through a whole bunch of different
        operating systems. I use Windows at work but a Mac at
        home. I'm getting too old and cranky to put in all the effort
        necessary to keep a Windows machine running.
        palmwarrior
        • What do you have to do?

          To keep your Windows system running? Im not really sure what you mean. Are you still using Windows 95 and not realized that the world has moved on? I use Windows Vista on an x64 laptop that I only reboot when I do updates. I use it at work all day, put it in standby and bring it home and fire it up on my coffee table for use at home. I leave it on all night and day accept when I drive to and from work. It works all the time everytime. I never have to work with it for it to do exactly what I want. I have no PC maufacturer crap ware and use standard applications like office and tools I need to manage my Cisco gear and some other basic software. Run Mcafee Enterprise Virus Scan. No problems ever. Uptime is 100% and I have visited some bad sites through others like myspace and I was just fine. I also believe that the user is the most dangerous part of the computer experience. I have set policies on all my systems that lock them down and basically remove the end user from the spectrum. I do not visit my desktops at all, they run the same all the time every time by eliminating the end user. Its that easy really, if they do not have the ability to change things then there is no need for me to visit the system and fix it.
          OhTheHumanity
        • Seeing as I have no problems...

          keeping my Vista mahine running, I'd say your just getting to old to use one.

          No offense, but it really isn't that hard. If you not surfing bad sites and clicking on obvious spam mail, then you'll likely never get viruses.

          I'm not one that claims Windows is better, but I just don't understand why Mac users have such a hard time maintaining a Windows machine.

          I have used several versions and distros of Windows, Linux, OSX and Solaris. In all honesty Winsows is the easiest to use, and the UNIX like systems are only more secure because all together they claim less then 5% of marketshare.

          I actually hope Mac gets more marketshare one day just so the Mac fanboys can see what it's like to be popular.
          ShadowGIATL
          • Lets get something Straight Macs are easier to deal with

            I'm a Musician who also repairs PC's & Macs in my Spare time i have set up Numerous Macs for a number of people in different fields ex: Musicians, DeskTop Publishers, Students, Housewives etc.

            I have also setup PC's but only about half as many as i always try to get them a Mac & i only give up once i see they've been brainwashed by some of their game playing friends or the simple fact that some people just can't handle change.

            What i've found is that (apart from the obvious stuff like messy desktop icons/files ,repairing disk permissions,running out of hd space cause they've put too many songs in ITUNES or they don't know how to get rid of Spam or create an alias to their itunes/limewire fdr etc)
            they continue working without the Machine slowing down considerably unlike Windows.

            Now be honest, how many of the more knowledgable MS users of you who have gone over to an uncle,cousins or friends place & have been asked to take a look at their PC cause they say it has slowed to a painfully slow speed ? i'm sure a fair few of you, i know i have & you know what i usually tell them is that they either need to invest in a really good sec suite(not Mcafee or Nortons cpu/memory hogs) or they should get a Mac because if all they do is email, office & a few other apps Macs are simply better.

            Now If Apple gets a fair bit more market share sure this could change i'm not doubting that,it could become a larger target for all the crim coders out there , but until that happens don't ? it just use it for what it is today & that's a more secure personal computing platform for everyone.
            johnpall9
    • We can make idiot proof computers, they're called consoles

      We can make idiot proof computers, they're called consoles where you can't shoot yourself in the face. The problem is that people don't want that and they want the flexibility of being able to modify their computers any way they like and they're willing to trust any stranger to modify their computers.

      The Mac is safe for one reason and one reason only, because it's more obscure and the user base isn't large enough to draw any attacks. Offer up a reward for breaking in to the computer and it's always the Mac that falls first well before Windows and Linux.
      georgeou
      • Hmmm ... maybe ...

        ... but any console that came equipped to play QuickTime and Flash would need endless updating. Might as well get the store owner who sells it to you to shoot you in the foot before leaving the store.

        That said, a web browsing console that was totally isolated from a network and reloaded from firmware each time might be workable.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • Not really

          Even if the console had vulnerable code, it can't modify the OS and it can't survive a hard reset. If the OS doesn't permit hard modifications that survive hard reboots, then the worst thing you need to do is yank the power cord to recover.

          The flexibility of the general purpose computer to be modified at a whim (by unqualified end-users) is also its greatest weakness.
          georgeou
      • Make it idiot proof

        and then they just make a smarter idiots. Its a no win scenario.
        dave01234
      • Georgie porgie, still flogging that old, lame argument?

        "The Mac is safe for one reason and one reason only, because it's more obscure and the user base isn't large enough to draw any attacks."

        Utter BS. Pure codswallop. Total tripe. Absolute rubbish. Pure nonsense.

        George.
        I have pointed this out to you many times in the past. You always ignored it, and I fully expect you to ignore it going forward.

        Malware existed long before Microsoft Windows had a significant market share. Back in the days when there were MANY different personal computer brands, each with their own proprietary OS, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAD MALWARE.

        Atari. Commodore. Amiga. TRS-80. Sinclair. TI-99.

        THEY ALL HAD MALWARE.

        None of them had even a small fraction of the current Mac OS user base, and yet they still managed to get viruses written for them. How do you reconcile this with your bogus claim that user base is the one-and-only factor in malware prevalency?

        Even if these absolute and incontrovertible facts were not blindingly obvious to everyone, it would still be absolute stupidity to claim that there is one, and only one, possible cause of malware prevalence.

        Please.

        Stop lying.

        Stop spreading stupid and ridiculous BS claims that you know are factually incorrect.
        bmerc
        • Please be polite to George.

          The Atari, Commodore, Amiga, etc, existed in an age of diversity in which all computers were fair game for malware. There would have been almost no malware written for Atari, the Commodore, or the Amiga if there had been a competing operating system with the 90% market share that Windows holds today.

          So please stop your hate speech against George. He's right; nobody wants to write malware for mac when it will spread 1100% faster on a windows box. Unless you pay them.

          Don't believe the numbers? Check it out:

          http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=8
          joelw@...
          • Now now...

            You're barking up the wrong tree. You insinuate that bmerc disputes that Windows has a bigger market share. He did not dispute that. So your web link 'to prove' something is moot. Thank you.

            Read George's post. He claims there that when Apple would have the same market share, that they would be more vulnerable than Windows. That's laughable. We all know the coding quality of Windows.

            Move on and get on with the times. Try a live CD. It's no shame....
            nizuse
        • RE: Georgie porgie, still flogging that old, lame argument?

          Can I just say that factually you may have a point, but the era you are describing was back in the days malware was made for 'ego', a way of promoting a programmer. Now malware is made purely for revenue and cash generation schemes.

          For this reason, the latest batch's of malware are all produced for the OS with the biggest market share, Im pretty sure that 'georgie' is correct, as soon as mac's become more popular watch and see the level of virus's, malware etc rise!

          It wouldnt surprise me either if these threats that come out for the Mac are ones which windows had and patched years and years ago, something apple could of learnt from.
          mallam1
        • Heres some facts

          Fact is consistency, if every time you get the same result from an action over a period of time under a certain condition it becomes fact.

          "easier to use" is inconsistent because its based on personal opinion, the majority may think it easier to use a Mac or vice versa (Windows) this does not constitute fact, everybody would have to agree and they would have to consistently agree over a period of time before this became fact, it would also be a fact that would have no basis as opinion can change at anytime so therefore could never be a fact but global opinion over a duress of time.

          So your both right from your personal perspectives, but then there's a Linux user who is also right but opposes both your opinions based on his/her experiences and knowledge accrued on their time-line of existence.

          This is the very essence of marketing and marketing strategies (influencing decision and opinion) so the only brained washed people are those that blindly claim something is better then the other when there's no facts to support a claim other then personal opinion, you've be swallowed up by the marketing media. The truly enlightened will know that what suites you suites you and what suites me suites me, whats best for me may not be whats best for you.

          Put in another way, unless you experience all that i've experienced when i experienced and under the conditions that i experienced then we will always have differences (being an individual) and for you to experience what i've experienced we'd have to occupy the same time and space which is physically impossible. An opinion is an opinion and can be changed over time, a fact is a fact and never changes.

          In answer to your question regarding the following:
          "Atari. Commodore. Amiga. TRS-80. Sinclair. TI-99.

          THEY ALL HAD MALWARE.

          None of them had even a small fraction of the current Mac OS user base, and yet they still managed to get viruses written for them. How do you reconcile this with your bogus claim that user base is the one-and-only factor in malware prevalency?"

          That's because there's a much larger user base today then there was 25 years ago. Is that not a factor you considered before asking this question, now you can counter with another factor and we could be here all day, but you can't combine all the factors together to ascertain fact so it will always be an opinion. Unless we had a global communist government but then what would be the point when only the opinion of the government would matter anyway.
          mrjoctave
      • Bill Gates asks himself We can make idiot computer OS & he sure succeeded

        The problem with this statement:
        "The Mac is safe for one reason and one reason only, because it's more obscure and the user base isn't large enough to draw any attacks."
        is that this Gentleman has'nt really thought of the typical attack that occurs in the Online World & that is the Usual you know Spyware,virus Phishing etc now lets just use some examples a utility app one that sits in the utilities section on the bottom right hand ex: like you would typically find in XP you know the ones that slow you're XP system down like av, sound & graphic card apps firewalls & also the apps that get installed by stealth or ignorance like ex:PC HEALTH your PC is infected & the Sheeple goes & clicks yes to everything etc.
        Now where is the equivalent in OSX ? there is'nt any the only way you can install them is by user interaction sure if the bozo user say's yes to every thing once the pass dialog comes up then he's gone (& he deserves it) but this is a more in your face stop sign & it is telling the sheeple bozo does he really want to install an app he does'nt know anything about or one that is pretending to be something else of course uac in Vista is better than XP
        but you need a faster more memory PC to run it & XP makes up most of the online world everyone knows that & people hav'nt taken to Vista cause it's an OS hog and a few of my friends got me to reinstall XP on a a fairly recent Celeron 2 ghz Compaq Laptop & a few others that had Vista & was slow as as a snail (better luck in 2009 with Win 7 meanwhile OSX is fantastic & Fast even on an average Power PC g4 400) so what are you going to say now? lets hear it!
        johnpall9
        • OS Hog?????

          Heres a factor you never considered and seems like no Apple user will ever consider...

          Windows pushes technology forward by demanding better hardware and higher specs, why is this? a software programmers/engineers delight is resources, the more resources the more you can do, so if you asked if i wanted to program for a high spec system or a low one i would choose the higher spec, why? because it gives me more freedom to incorporate features that would not be possible on a lower spec system (or better still, plausible)...And after all, MS is a software manufacturer so growing resources is key to its evolution/progress. Could you do a fraction of the things you do on your computer today on a computer 25 years ago, no you can't and it just wouldn't be feasible (streaming video comes to mind).

          Apple are a hardware manufacturer that produces its own OS and software to compliment its hardware, which is why Macs are so stable and solid in comparison to Windows. It is also the reason why hardware/software availability is limited, yes you can upgrade a Mac as one person pointed out earlier, but what happens to the warranty and what about customer support, Apple will no longer support a device if it has been tampered with hence maintaining the integrity and stability of there systems and devices.

          These is a fundamental difference between the two companies and what they represent. Until people see both companies for what they are then this argument of whose best will persist. Windows drives the user experience while Apple enhances the user experience and if you cant see that fundamental difference then you will never appreciate either for what they are or what they represent.
          mrjoctave
      • Safer user experiences, flexibility, and incremental progress

        1. The console idea fits my self image as a boring old
        collaborative manager type looking for incremental
        progress instead of instant gratification. Unfortunately for
        the discussion, I haven't done anything with consoles
        outside of a kiosk since I quit doing mainframe
        programming through 3270 emulation on Win95 about 14
        years ago. From browsing ZDNet, it sounds like the
        modern implementations are the Sunray (Yes, I read Paul
        Murphy) and the new Netbooks. For those who want to
        claim that I don't know anything about modern Windows,
        my current direct experience is keeping my wife's XP
        machine operational but I also spend a lot of time shaking
        my head over the latest escapades of IM/IT on the XP
        machines I and my staff use at work.

        2. I think Paul will claim that the Sunrays allow users to
        install their mission critical / favorite applications in a way
        where the user is protected from a lot of negative
        consequences. Today, you need your own Sun/Unix-like
        server to do something like this. Companies do it but I
        don't know of anything like it offered to consumers. I'm
        sure a sufficiently motivated idiot could break the Unix-
        like server but the probability is lower than on the
        Windows platform.

        3. The Netbook, latest incarnation of the Network
        Computer, just moves the discussion off of the desktop
        and onto the network. I suspect the Network Computer
        thing will grow into the future but I've no use for the form
        factor. Give me something big enough to work with on my
        desktop or small enough to add into the converged device
        I carry in my pocket.

        4. George, since my view of OS competition doesn't seem
        to be well represented in the ZDNet forums, let me tell you
        why I think your argument regarding a Mac with 90%
        market share is unrealistic. I see the OS market for
        desktop machines as an interdependent ecosystem. Apple
        innovates because it has developed a business model for
        rapid innovation in a niche. The limited hardware selection
        allows apple to bring new ideas to market faster than if
        they had to drag along the Windows compatible market
        players. Limited to no competition in the hardware
        selection yields a price advantage to Windows. Windows
        follows along and popularizes Apple ideas at lower cost.
        The Unix-like crowd eventually figures out how to do
        things that have already been done to great profit in the
        Apple and Windows market. Innovation is a good thing but
        there is no good reason to pay for the same innovation
        over and over again. Over time, the machine based cost
        differences have become smaller and it looks like the
        opportunities for innovation on the desktop are becoming
        fewer. However, my own prediction is that the whole stand
        alone desktop market will disappear before the desktop OS
        ecosystem collapses. I'm not wildly guessing that any of
        this will happen in the next week.

        5. Note that my measure of safety is risk. Risk, when it can
        be measured, is measured as the impact of failure
        multiplied by the probability of failure. I certainly hear and
        understand that the Mac can be catastrophically
        compromised. I also hear that the reported incidents per
        Mac machine are a small fraction of the reported incidents
        per Windows machine. It's been this way all along. Hence,
        the Mac is safer. Unrealistic scenarios and special cases
        aren't going to change my evaluation.
        palmwarrior
        • Blind Analysis

          Well instead of writing an essay, ill just answer the numbered list.

          1. "For those who want to claim that I don't know anything about modern Windows, my current direct experience is keeping my wife's XP machine operational but I also spend a lot of time shaking
          my head over the latest escapades of IM/IT on the XP
          machines I and my staff use at work."

          Is that a justification or a declaration - no further comment.

          2a. "Today, you need your own Sun/Unix-like server to do something like this. Companies do it but I don't know of anything like it offered to consumers."

          Interesting, but would mean users setting up a server to protect home computers (but the user wants things simpler according to most bloggers), are MS doing something like that with the Home Server??.

          2b. "I'm sure a sufficiently motivated idiot could break the Unix-like server but the probability is lower than on the Windows platform."

          Which Windows platform are you referring to??? Windows Vista, XP or are you referring to the server offerings and if so which offering, SBS, Server 2008, SQL Server, or are you referring to all Windows platforms??? thats real ambiguous!

          3. "The Netbook, latest incarnation of the Network
          Computer, just moves the discussion off of the desktop
          and onto the network."

          Is the netbook a network computer?? thats pretty ambiguous too(as with most blogs nowadays) because if i say its marketed as a mobile internet platform so therefore is not a net book with the net referring to networks but net being referred to as the internet, you could say you was referring to the network behind the internet hence the internet. wiggly wiggly.

          Now this is the long part with so many holes but still i will persevere.

          4a. "I see the OS market for desktop machines as an interdependent ecosystem."

          Great insight into this interdependent ecosystem. or did it just sound good.

          4b."Apple innovates because it has developed a business model for rapid innovation in a niche."

          Explain because i don't remember anything innovative coming from Apple that has not already been done unless you class turning a computer into a fashion accessory as innovative, but then i'd prefer to call it marketing. Is the iPhone innovative, no its just new to the masses, i've been using touchscreen phones since 2001 (XDA) and theres nothing different from the two other then how content is displayed to the user, did Apple innovate that style too... if thats what you think then you don't know nothing about the Panasonic LifeWall or Microsoft Surface... maybe then you would know where Apples latest inspiration for the iPhone UI.. oh sorry innovation STEMS from.

          4c. "The limited hardware selection allows apple to bring new ideas to market faster than if they had to drag along the Windows compatible market players."

          Yes your actually right, but the problem is thoses ideas tend to be UI based hence no substance when it comes to real computing, but great for enhanced user experience, Apple lags behind technology as a result of screening. If it hasn't be tested and approved to Apples rigorous standards it will not be supported by Apple, so for emerging technologies that have never been tested in a mainstream market theres no chance until it has, hence Apple maintain there reputation as a stable and solid system. So wheres the innovation, whose driving and whose dragging what???

          4d. "Limited to no competition in the hardware
          selection yields a price advantage to Windows. Windows
          follows along and popularizes Apple ideas at lower cost."

          Read my response to 4c - also read blog entitled "OS Hog???"

          4f. "Over time, the machine based cost differences have become smaller and it looks like the opportunities for innovation on the desktop are becoming fewer. However, my own prediction is that the whole stand alone desktop market will disappear before the desktop OS ecosystem collapses."

          Now who would have thought!!! we've been talking about computers merging into the home and office for decades, hence the rise of embedded technology. Its not a prediction, its a reality because where working on it already.

          I'm getting bored now but i will round off with the last part.

          5. "I certainly hear and understand that the Mac can be catastrophically compromised. I also hear that the reported incidents per Mac machine are a small fraction of the reported incidents per Windows machine."

          And Mac machines are only a small fraction of the total market, so that sounds just about right... or is that a factor that still eludes most.

          I guess that brings us back full circle and it looks like i wrote another essay.
          mrjoctave