“Earlier this year Forbes reported on an especially creepy strain of malware known as FruitFly targeting Apple Macs,” Thomas Fox-Brewster reports for Forbes. “At the time, it was unclear just what the spy tool was for, though it appeared to be used for surveilling people’s personal Macs, in particular peeping at them through their webcam.”
“Now the U.S. Department of Justice has unveiled an indictment against 28-year-old North Royalton, Ohio, resident Phillip Durachinsky, who is not only accused of spying on Apple Mac owners via Fruitfly but also of producing child pornography,” Fox-Brewster reports. “Prosecutors alleged Durachinsky had been installing spyware on people’s PCs for more than 13 years ‘”in order to watch, listen to, and obtain personal data from unknowing victims.'”
“FruitFly was capable of stealing files, pilfering passwords, as well as turning on the microphone and the camera,” Fox-Brewster reports. “Durachinsky would listen in on people’s conversations and watch them in secret, whilst taking detailed notes of his alleged snooping, the DoJ said. In some cases, FruitFly would alert him when the victim was searching for pornography, according to the indictment. FruitFly didn’t only work on MacOS, Durachinsky had developed a Windows version too, the DoJ claimed.”
“‘For more than 13 years, Phillip Durachinsky allegedly infected with malware the computers of thousands of Americans and stole their most personal data and communications,’ said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan,” Fox-Brewster reports. “A spokesperson from the Ohio brach of the DoJ said Durachinsky was arrested in January last year and has been in custody ever since.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Yuck.
Call us paranoid, but… that’s why we use camJAMR Webcam Covers on our Macs. They’re black, so they work perfectly with our iMacs and they’re removable/reusable. We’ve stuck and unstuck them hundreds of times. We just leave them on and peel them aside when we want to use the FaceTime HD camera cameras.
Google engineer proves any iPhone app with camera permission can spy on you – October 26, 2017
Mac malware undetected for years allows webcam photos, key-logging, and more – July 25, 2017
Mysterious Mac malware ‘FruitFly’ has infected hundreds of victims for years – July 24, 2017
How to completely disable your Mac’s FaceTime camera – March 1, 2017
Newly discovered Mac/Linux malware ‘Fruitfly’ watches your every move – January 19, 2017
How to keep your Mac’s camera from spying on you, no tape required – December 8, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg covers his MacBook’s camera and microphone with tape – June 22, 2016
How to disable the iSight camera on your Mac – February 19, 2015
Orwellian: UK government, with aid from US NSA, intercepted webcam images from millions of users – February 27, 2014
Sextortion warning: It’s masking tape time for webcams – June 28, 2013
Research shows how Mac webcams can spy on their users without warning light – December 18, 2013
Ex-official: FBI can secretly activate an individual’s webcam without indicator light – December 9, 2013
Lower Merion report: MacBook webcams snapped 56,000 clandestine images of high schoolers – April 20, 2010
I’ve had tape over my webcams since they first appeared, and my sound input device is a desktop microphone that I have to turn on each time I want anyone to hear what I’m saying. There ain’t nuthin’ that ain’t hackable. We had our few years of “Security through Obscurity.” Now the only advantage we have is that Macs are somewhat harder to hack than PCs. Somewhat.
Why now? I mean, the article says he was charged in January of last year. And this story appears only now?…
They should lock this sucker up with all the pervs in jail and let them have a go at him. Trouble is he might like it. Sick bastard maybe should be shot on the spot.
I will be curious to hear the details of this exploit. I’ve heard many scary tales of possible surreptitious recording on Macs, but I’ve never seen it explained how someone can remotely turn on your camera and disable the activation light.
How is this guy loading this FruitFly software on Macs?
Well, isn’t that a good question? Phillip Durachinsky is a pedophile.
Ask Justin Long, he’ll say you can’t. Or can he only say it to John Hodgman?
Anyway, good question.
Good question that no one is answering.
Perhaps that information has not been released yet as it is part of the prosecution.
Malware is generally loaded onto Macs by some sort of social engineering. People are tricked into downloading an app which does something sinister in addition to what it’s supposed to do. Hence the oft-repeated advice to only download software from places where you know you can trust them.
Great argument for a headless Mac. The 4K Monitor I am sitting in front of does not have an integrated microphone or camera- can’t hack what is not attached.
Right now only the Trashcan and Mac mini- both way long in the tooth- have that feature. Laptops and iMacs have both.
Where I work the Dell cash registers have sliding caps over the web cams. They also have HDMI input, more USB ports, and easier access to both USB ports ports and the card reader. There used to be a time when Dell couldn’t do ANYTHING better then Apple. What’s been going wrong?