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Mac-specific virus targets iChat

The Leap-A virus might be coming to a Macintosh near you.

The virus, believed to be one of the first developed specifically for Apple machines, spreads through the company’s iChat instant messaging program. The target is buddy lists that iChat users have installed on their machines. Leap-A disguises itself as an image of Leopard, the next generation of Mac OS X. When the unsuspecting user installs the bogus installation and then fires up iChat, the worm goes to work.

The file is titled latestpics.tgz. Only computers running Mac OS 10.4 are vulnerable and then, only if they jump through the series of hoops that the virus needs to have handled in order to go to work.

Leap-A is nowhere nearly as destructive or as easy-to-start as Kama Sutra, Mona Lisa, or any of a hundred malicious viruses created for the Windows environment. Still, security experts warn Macintosh users not to be too smug and to keep an eye on prevention.

“The important piece of advice for any iChat users running OS X 10.4 is not to accept file transfers, even if they come from someone on a buddy list,” said Kevin Hogan, Symantec security response manager.

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