A spyware application that surreptitiously scans chat logs and hard drives of unsuspecting Mac users has found its way onto three of the more popular download sites, security researchers said Tuesday.
Dubbed OSX/OpinionSpy, the spyware is distributed through software available on sites including Softpedia, MacUpdate, and VersionTracker, according to Intego, a provider of anti-virus software for Macs. The app isn't contained in the downloads themselves, but rather gets downloaded during the installation process, Intego said. A Windows version of the program has existed since at least 2008.
Once installed, OpinionSpy scans files and folders on all attached hard drives and regularly sends data in encrypted form to several servers, according to Intego. It also injects code into the Safari, Firefox, and iChat applications and mines them for email addresses, message headers, and other data. The program remains active even if the screensaver or other application that was originally downloaded is uninstalled.
"The fact that this application collects data in this manner, and that it opens a backdoor, makes it a very serious security threat," Intego researchers wrote. "In addition, the risk of it collecting sensitive data such as user names, passwords and credit card numbers, makes this a very high-risk spyware.
Intego identified the apps installing OpinionSpy as the MishInc FLV To Mp3 media converter and screensavers made by the company 7art-screensavers.
According to Intego, the popular download sites included: