UPDATE: The most complete analysis of this trojan/worm/malware is available at https://www.ambrosiasw.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=102379. There is also some debate as to whether or not you will be prompted for your password if you try to open the file.
There has been extensive discussion today in numerous media outlets about a new virus which affects Macintosh computers. As a Mac user, this certainly caught my eye.
Unfortunately once again this is an example of something that has gotten blown way out of proportion. It's not surprising that it's the folks who make money by selling anti-virus apps for Mac that are leading the charge.
For this "Mac Virus" to work, a user must download and attempt to open a software package (latestpics.tgz) which poses as screenshots of the new Leopard version of OS X. During the install process, the user will be prompted for their administrator user name and password. If they enter it, the application will run on their machine where it attempts to propagate itself via iChat.
There's the key. This file is harmless unless one tries to open it, and when prompted gives it administrator privileges by specifically logging in as an administrator. No operating system is immune to users manually installing malicious software. Not Linux, not Windows, and certainly not Mac OS X.
Portraying this as a "Mac Virus" is irresponsible. I'm still not going to pay for anti-virus protection for my Mac because I don't download and install unknown software, and I certainly don't grant any application installation routine administrator privileges unless I know darn well what it does.
Meanwhile, I did spend a few minutes this morning updating my old Win2K laptop with the latest AV program and signature file. Now that's a machine I still worry about.