Apple Computer denied Monday that the supposed iOpeneri malware program is a virus, Trojan horse or a worm. The security company that originally reported the program disagrees.
In a statement, Apple said it has concluded iOpeneri is no threat.
"iOpeneri is not a virus, Trojan horse, or worm," a written statement read. "It does not propagate itself across a network, through email, or over the Web. iOpeneri can only be installed by someone who already has access to your system and provides proper administrator authentication. Apple advises users to only install software from vendors and Web sites that they know and trust."
But an antivirus expert disagrees saying that while the program is not an immediate threat, it is a worm because it attempts to copy itself, and therefore is a virus as well.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for for security software maker Sophos Plc told ZDNet UK, "we class it as a worm. Itis not going to spread very fast, but it does try to copy itself from Apple Mac drive to Apple Mac drive, and that still makes it a worm. If you saw something similar in the PC world, you would call it a worm."
As first reported on The Mac Observer October 25, security experts discovered the virus entitled iOpeneri, or iRenepoi (opener spelled backwards), disguising itself as a shell script.
Mr. Cluley said Renepo is a self-propagating worm that doesnit use e-mail as a carrier. Instead, it first needs to get root access to a system, but once run will begin seeking out other drives and systems on the network to which it can copy and spread.
"Once on a drive, it does a number of things including turning off system accounting and logging, the OS X firewall, software auto-updates, and the OS X security program LittleSnitch," said Mr. Cluley. "It also creates a new admin-level user which can be used for subsequent system access. It turns on filesharing, and copies some key system files making them world-writeable. It creates a huge back door. Itis a smart worm."
The worm also installs a number of pieces of software, such as ohphoneX (a voice and video sharing program for OS X), John the Ripper (a password cracker) and dsniff (a password sniffer). It scans the swap file, Samba and VNC (virtual network computing) connections for passwords and creates a folder in which to store this, IP numbers of other infected computers and other data found on the hard drive.
Mr. Cluley said the worm could be propagated as a promotion via e-mail, encouraging the reader to go to a specific Web address and download the script now to update the Mac OS or some other specific software program.
Mr. Cluley believes the worm is not an enormous problem and doesnit believe Mac users should panic.