Surveillence outfit Hacking Team may have released a new piece of OS X malware

The malware packs a few new tricks, and AV software wasn't detecting it at first

Security researchers have identified a new piece of OS X malware that may come from Hacking Team, the controversial Italian company that sells surveillance software to governments.

The malware is a "dropper," which is used to plant other software onto a computer. In this case, it appears intended to install Hacking Team's Remote Control System (RCS).

"The dropper is using more or less the same techniques as older Hacking Team RCS samples, and its code is more or less the same," wrote Pedro Vilaca, an OS X security expert with SentinelOne, on his blog.

It's difficult to determine if Hacking Team is using the dropper or if someone else took the code and has added a few improvements. Hacking Team suffered a devastating data breach in July 2015 that saw the release of 400GB of data, including source code and exploits.

"Either this is an old sample or HackingTeam are still using the same code base as before the hack," Vilaca wrote.

Two variations of the code were uploaded about three weeks ago to VirusTotal, the free scanning service from Google. At that time, no antivirus products detected the code.

One of the improvements is that the malware uses Apple's native OS X encryption scheme and a custom packing method, wrote Patrick Wardle, director of research with the Synack.

Vilaca wrote that it also uses an anti-debugging trick to make analysis by security researchers more difficult. Still, Vilaca wasn't complimentary about the new sample.

"Until now, nothing spectacular," he wrote. "Either this is an old sample or HackingTeam are still using the same code base as before the hack."

Hacking Team has been accused in the past by privacy and human rights groups of selling its software to governments with poor human rights records. 

The leaked data included a client list and indicated Hacking Team had relationships with governments such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The company remained defiant after the hacking, saying it did not sell tools to governments illegally. Despite such a large data breach, Hacking Team remains in business.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?