Apple Snubs Firm That Discovered Mac Botnet, Tries to Cut Off Its Server Monitoring Infections
Until it was revealed last week that more than half a million Macs were infected with Flashback malware, Apple had little experience working with the community of security researchers who aim to dissect and shut down botnets. And according to the firm that discovered this new outbreak, it could use a lesson in teamwork.
Boris Sharov, chief executive of the Moscow-based security Dr. Web says he learned Monday from the Russian Web registrar Reggi.ru that Apple had requested the registrar shut down one of its domains, which Apple said was being used as a “command and control” server for the hundreds of thousands of PCs infected with Flashback. In fact, that domain was one of three that Dr. Web has been using as a spoofed command and control server-what researchers call a “sinkhole”-to monitor the collection of hijacked machines and try to understand their behavior, the technique which allowed the firm to first report the size of Apple’s botnet last week.
“They told the registrar this [domain] is involved in a malicious scheme. Which would be true if we weren’t the ones controlling it and not doing any harm to users,” says Sharov. “This seems to mean that Apple is not considering our work as a help. It’s just annoying them.”
Sharov believes that Apple’s attempt to shut down its monitoring server was an honest mistake. But it’s a symptom of the company’s typically tight-lipped attitude. In fact, Sharov says that since Dr. Web first contacted Apple to share its findings about the unprecedented Mac-based botnet, it hasn’t received a response. “We’ve given them all the data we have,” he says. “We’ve heard nothing from them until this.”
I’ve contacted Apple for comment, but haven’t yet heard back from the company either.