Mac OS X gets rootkit coding manual

Filling the void


Over the past decade, the world has seen advances in rootkits running on Windows and Unix operating systems that few would have thought possible. Now, it's Mac OS X's turn, as a security researcher plans to share a variety of techniques for developing the ultra-stealthy programs for the Apple platform.

At a talk titled Advanced Mac OS X rootkits at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next week, researcher Dino Dai Zovi plans to discuss specific features in the OS that make it possible to write rootkits that are virtually impossible for untrained users to detect.

"Most of the existing research (into) rootkits for OS X essentially take older Unix-based ideas and port them to OS X," Dai Zovi told The Register. "Mine primarily uses the unique features of OS X and this makes it harder to detect the traditional tools and techniques."

As just another Mach-based operating system, OS X is chock full of instructions that make sneaky rootkits possible. And yet there's been little documentation, so far, of exactly what they are and how they can be used. Dai Zovi's talk aims to fill the vacuum by showing how to extend native Mach RPC mechanisms that communicate with the Mac kernel.

"It's not an inherent weakness in the system," said Dai Zovi, co-author of the Mac Hacker's Handbook. "It's just extending the flexibility of the microkernel-based design in a malicious direction."

Dai Zovi also plans to deliver a much shorter "turbo talk" discussing ways penetration testers can test the security of Macs using the Metasploit Project. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • If you're using older, vulnerable Cisco small biz routers, throw them out
    Severe security flaw won't be fixed – as patches released this week for other bugs

    If you thought you were over the hump with Patch Tuesday then perhaps think again: Cisco has just released fixes for a bunch of flaws, two of which are not great.

    First on the priority list should be a critical vulnerability in its enterprise security appliances, and the second concerns another critical bug in some of its outdated small business routers that it's not going to fix. In other words, junk your kit or somehow mitigate the risk.

    Both of these received a CVSS score of 9.8 out of 10 in severity. The IT giant urged customers to patch affected security appliances ASAP if possible, and upgrade to newer hardware if you're still using an end-of-life, buggy router. We note that miscreants aren't actively exploiting either of these vulnerabilities — yet.

    Continue reading
  • CISA and friends raise alarm on critical flaws in industrial equipment, infrastructure
    Nearly 60 holes found affecting 'more than 30,000' machines worldwide

    Updated Fifty-six vulnerabilities – some deemed critical – have been found in industrial operational technology (OT) systems from ten global manufacturers including Honeywell, Ericsson, Motorola, and Siemens, putting more than 30,000 devices worldwide at risk, according to private security researchers. 

    Some of these vulnerabilities received CVSS severity scores as high as 9.8 out of 10. That is particularly bad, considering these devices are used in critical infrastructure across the oil and gas, chemical, nuclear, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, water treatment and distribution, mining and building and automation industries. 

    The most serious security flaws include remote code execution (RCE) and firmware vulnerabilities. If exploited, these holes could potentially allow miscreants to shut down electrical and water systems, disrupt the food supply, change the ratio of ingredients to result in toxic mixtures, and … OK, you get the idea.

    Continue reading
  • Now Windows Follina zero-day exploited to infect PCs with Qbot
    Data-stealing malware also paired with Black Basta ransomware gang

    Miscreants are reportedly exploiting the recently disclosed critical Windows Follina zero-day flaw to infect PCs with Qbot, thus aggressively expanding their reach.

    The bot's operators are also working with the Black Basta gang to spread ransomware in yet another partnership in the underground world of cyber-crime, it is claimed.

    This combination of Follina exploitation and its use to extort organizations makes the malware an even larger threat for enterprises. Qbot started off as a software nasty that raided people's online bank accounts, and evolved to snoop on user keystrokes and steal sensitive information from machines. It can also deliver other malware payloads, such as backdoors and ransomware, onto infected Windows systems, and forms a remote-controllable botnet.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022