Think affiliate programs are solely the province of SEO firms and experts? Think again. There’s such a thing as a malware affiliate program, and a very recent one targets Mac users specifically. It’s a sign that cyber-crime is beginning to target Apple more aggressively than it has in the past.
ZDNet.com reports that a group called the “Partnerka,” which consists of Russian spam and malware affiliates, have begun to focus on the Mac. Their tactics involve using social engineering tricks (read: preying on human weakness) to install fake codecs and scareware programs (the kind that pressure you into installing and paying for bogus single purpose anti-malware software).
The plans and methods of the “Partnerka” were revealed at the Virus Bulletin Conference 2009, where Sophos Labs researcher Dmitry Samosseikko talked about a site called Mac-codec.com which has since been taken down, that offered a bounty of 43 cents for each successful installation of malicious software on a Mac computer. According to Samosseikko, that’s a high price, and indicates that the Mac malware game is becoming more attractive to online crime organizations.
Even though the site is gone, the threat is not. These malware schemes work because they offer something many Mac users might be looking for. Partnerka’s Mac-codec.com was offering video players and fake video codecs that attempt to draw in people trying to playback video they’ve downloaded somewhere on the web. Previous DNS-changing trojan malware attempts depended on porn video lures.
Focus on the Mac platform might be growing for online criminals, but most malware plots still require you to make the first move. To help protect yourself from fake and harmful codecs, use Perian and VLC, and if your video still won’t play back, just give up altogether. No video content is worth the theft of your private data, after all.