Mac OS X Machines Roped Into Jnanabot Network

January 21, 2011 | 12:05

Tags: #anti-virus #mac-os #mac-os-x #virus #worm

Companies: #apple #symantec

Security specialist Symantec has released an analysis of the cross-platform Jnanabot worm, revealing that around 16 per cent of infections are found on Mac OS X machines.

The figures, which Symantec released earlier this week, analysed the infected machines that made up the Jnanabot botnet in December 2010, and came to a somewhat surprising conclusion.

While the vast majority of machines infected by the Java-based Jnanabot worm and forming the botnet were Windows-based, 16 per cent of the network was made up of machines running Apple's Mac OS X - a platform that is often claimed to be immune to malware.

Because Jnanabot is written in Java and distributed as an executable Java Archive, it's effectively a cross-platform worm that can infect any system with a suitable Java Virtual Machine installed. This enables it to spread across both Windows and Mac machines, unlike traditional worms written for a specific target platform.

However, an interesting omission from the list of infected operating systems is Linux. Despite sharing several security designs with the BSD-based Mac OS X platform, the open-source operating system is immune to the ravages of Jnanabot. Although the worm will run in the Java Virtual Machine on a Linux machine, it's unable to work its way into the system and fails to survive a reboot.

While fans of the platform will still maintain that Mac OS X is significantly more secure than Windows, despite a proclamation from Apple in 2008 recommending that all Mac users run anti-virus software, it appears that it's perhaps not as immune to infection as commonly thought.

Are you surprised to see such a high proportion of Mac machines making up the Jnanabot botnet, or is that to be expected when users have been conditioned into thinking they're immune? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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