OFFICIAL SECURITY BLOG

We’ve moved! You can now read the latest and greatest on Mac adware and malware at Malwarebytes.

Macworld recommends theft of Mac OS X

Published March 20th, 2014 at 8:01 AM EDT , modified March 20th, 2014 at 9:14 AM EDT

Once upon a time, Macworld was one of the most respected Mac-related periodicals out there. How times have changed! I have just come across a story on the Macworld web site, published early this morning, that not only recommends the use of stolen copies of Mac OS X, but also provides instructions on exactly how to do this!

MacWorld piracy article

I will not link to this article, providing it with additional free publicity. Instead, see the short excerpt in the screenshot at right.

As you can see from this excerpt, Chris Barylick, the author of the piece, is fully aware of the fact that what he is recommending is illegal, unethical and potentially dangerous. Yet he nonetheless proceeds to provide the information, through the site of a publication that many people will trust. To say this is irresponsible is like saying that Hitler wasn’t a very nice guy.

Obviously, the legal and ethical concerns here are significant. The argument, made in the article, that Apple no longer provides disks for older systems is irrelevant. It does not matter whether the software is no longer being sold… Apple is the sole owner of these systems, and I’m sure Apple’s legal department will be all over this like a monkey on a banana.

However, worse is the flagrant disregard for the security of MacWorld readers! Downloading stolen software via torrents is dangerous behavior, and is known to be a source of malicious software. The best-known case was the iServices malware, which was disguised initially as iWork apps and distributed via peer-to-peer sharing networks. In recent weeks, there have been reports of Mac adware/malware named Downlite that is infecting machines that have downloaded stolen apps through torrents.

So, even if you can find yourself unconcerned at the “victimless” crime of stealing outdated versions of Mac OS X, you should be appalled at the unconcern for the safety of Macworld readers.

Macworld Genieo

As an aside, I noticed that at the top of the Macworld page containing this article was a big green “Download” button that is part of a Genieo ad. Genieo is now detected by at least a dozen (or more, depending on the variant) anti-virus engines on VirusTotal as malware, adware or an unwanted app, yet there’s a great big ad linking to this software, right there on a Macworld page.

It’s sad to see this. I remember when I used to read Macworld religiously, and kept years of back issues on a shelf. Those issues have long since ended up in the recycling bin, however, and I haven’t had a subscription to Macworld in several years. It’s simply no longer useful to keep a subscription to a periodical that is a month or more out-of-date by the time it reaches your mailbox. And perhaps it’s this decline in readership that has Macworld using such questionable techniques to attract readers and keep advertising dollars.

Nonetheless, there are simply some things that should not be done, even if it means allowing your company to go bankrupt. Providing instructions on how to steal software and linking to something that is considered to be malware by some security companies are two of those things.

Updates

March 20, 2014 @ 9:10 am: Mark Allan, developer of ClamXav, points out that anyone can legally obtain old versions of Mac OS X simply by signing up for an Apple Developer account.

Tags: , ,

10 Comments

  • Jay says:

    I saw the article this morning, reading the news while I was waking up. I thought there was a typo in their headline maybe but nope, they really recommend it. Maybe all their active subscribers should cancel and download the magazine from torrent sites from now on, see if they’d agree with that… Ridiculous.

  • Lafaiete says:

    incredible…..

  • Jay says:

    12 hours later their article remains unchanged. Guess they have a great legal department and/or really don’t care about giving terrible advice.

    • Thomas says:

      More than 24 hours now and it’s still there. Shocking. The editorial staff of Macworld should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

  • John Fallon says:

    You can boot an old Mac by finding the last version of the OS it shipped with, I think. Do you need to be a paid developer to get those old downloads? Perhaps the person needs the hardware diagnostic disk?

    Clearly Macworld have an unusual concept of ethics.

  • Keep it safe says:

    Indeed, inexcusable behavior of Macworld. I am curious what steps Apple will take.

    But… did you really have to mention Hitler in your article? I understand you did not compare Macworld to Hitler. Still I liked the monkey-on-a-banana-comparison far better!

  • Jim says:

    Apple will supply you with legit copies of the disks that came with your older mac. All you have to do is call apple care give them the serial number of the mac. and for a small handling fee they send you copy of the install disk.

  • bentkitty100 says:

    Wow. I am rather shocked at this Macworld thing. And worse, they say that they are getting advice from an “Apple Tech.” People who don’t know any better might think this is official Apple-sponsored advice. I checked the site, and it doesn’t look like there’s any sort of clearly-marked note that they aren’t actually affiliated with Apple. Not good at all!

    • bentkitty100 says:

      It gets worse: This Macworld website gives instructions on how to jailbreak iPhones. I mean, it’s like they’re looking for trouble from Apple.

This post is more than 90 days old and has been locked. No further comments are allowed.