Leap-A is “a fairly harmless bit of code, and some have described it as a proof of concept. In fact, antivirus firm Symantec designated it a ‘Level 1’ threat, which is at the bottom of the scale for malicious code. Despite the trojan’s harmlessness, a number of sites are seizing on this, calling it the first Mac OS X virus to be discovered,” Eric Bangeman writes for Ars Technica “In fact, that distinction goes to another Trojan Horse, found in April 2004 by French firm Intego. After the hype machines slowed down, it was determined that the malware was nothing more than a proof-of-concept, illustrating that Mac OS X can be vulnerable to certain types of malware. In May 2004, another malicious script emerged that would delete the home directories of extremely gullible users. Leap-A hardly marks any sort of advance in Mac malware, as it’s less harmful than the May 2004 script and lacks the ability to self-propagate.”
“Mac OS X has a solid record so far when it comes to viruses and other malware, and many Mac users don’t bother with antivirus software,” Bangeman writes. “Leap-A hardly qualifies as a great leap forward in Mac OS X malware. But Mac users along with everyone else will be safer as long as they practice skeptical computing.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: Symantec’s OSX.Leap.A page states, “Number of infections: 0 – 49.” Why do the number of news articles outnumber the absurdly low number of “infected” machines by something like 100-1? Some of these “writers” who are banging out “Mac cultists smug no more, Macs just as porous as Windows, Mac plagued by viruses, Mac this, Mac that” articles are going to need new keyboards due to excessive drool. Who benefits from the proliferation of the impression that “Macs have viruses” that’s being misstated everywhere from Buffalo to Bangalore?
A couple of additional notes courtesy of MacDailyNews reader “PoPa” about Leap-A:
• Leap-A can’t transmit itself over the Internet, only over LAN.
• The default config of a Mac is immune even if were on an infected LAN. (It can’t spread on a LAN unless a lot of factors come together, including the user enabling Bonjour in iChat, which is very seldom done.)
Again, as Apple has already stated, “Leap-A is not a virus, it is malicious software that requires a user to download the application and execute the resulting file. Apple always advises Macintosh users to only accept files from vendors and Web sites that they know and trust.” Apple provides a guide to safely handling files received from the Internet here.
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