Security Experts Flag Art Project as Malware Threat to Mac Users

Security software developers must think Mac users are quite daft. Tuesday afternon Symantec sent out a press release flogging its ‘discovery’ of a new trojan horse targeting Apple’s OS disguised as a ‘space invaders’ style video game in which killing invading aliens results in the program deleting files from the user’s hard drive.

Ooo.

The game in question is an art project called Lose/Lose that first appeared on the web back in September, created by digital artist Zach Gage and featured in Electrofringe’s current exhibition of online art, Electro Online 2009.

The idea behind the project is to use game mechanics to call into question the idea of mindless killing for fun. Are gamers so obsessive they must kill aliens at any cost? In the game, each alien is based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted.

Gage asks, “Why do we assume that because we are given a weapon an awarded for using it, that doing so is right?”

The game has a clear warning at start-up that says, in scary red letters: killing aliens in this game will delete files from your hard drive.

Now Symantec is sending out an alert flagging the art project as malware.

“A new threat cleverly disguised as a classic video game is targeting unsuspecting Mac users,” Symantec said in an email to CultofMac.com. It continued:

The Trojan horse, known as Trojan.Loosemaque, is designed to look like a Space Invaders/Galaga style game. However, for every alien ship the user destroys, the program deletes a file from the home directory.   Symantec – the world leader in online security – recently discovered this new Trojan horse targeting Mac users and video of it in action can be seen here. Online games are increasingly becoming a target for virus creators, and this threat shows it’s a possibility regardless of the platform. While the author of OSX.Loosemaque actually informs people on his website that the game deletes files, there’s nothing stopping someone with more malicious intentions from modifying it and passing it on to unsuspecting users who don’t have security software installed.

Symantec is not the first company to flag Gage’s project. Security blockers such as Sophos’ Anti-Virus and Intego’s VirusBarrier X5 also define the game as a threat.

So is it art or is it malware? Are Mac users equipped to know the difference? Seriously, what do security software companies take us for?

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About the author

Lonnie Lazar

Lonnie Lazar is a writer-musician-web designer-attorney. He writes about Apple for Cult of Mac and Mac|Life, and about VoIP and telecommunications for Voxilla. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieLazar, join the Cult of Mac on Facebook, and find Lonnie's photos on Flickr.

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