Stardust Macro Virus Targets Open Source Apps

macro open source OpenOffice

Although the macro viruses of old targeted Microsoft Office applications, the recently discovered proof of concept virus -- which Kaspersky named Virus.StarOffice.Stardust.A -- is the first that is "theoretically capable" of infecting StarOffice and OpenOffice, according to a post on Kaspersky's blog.

Stardust works by downloading an image file with adult content from the Internet and opening the file in a new document, according to the blog.

Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, a Phoenix-based solution provider, says the fact that virus writers are beginning to target open source applications will serve to dispel the myth of these applications being impervious to threats.

"Alternative platforms often brag about the fact that there isn't a lot of malicious code floating around on their platforms, and therefore everyone should use them, and not Microsoft, which [they say] is full of holes," said Cocanower.

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"I don't think anyone really thinks that open source apps are completely safe from attacks," said Jeffrey Sherman, president of Warever Computing in Los Angeles. "Up to now, the theory of "security via obscurity" has reigned true, but as any open source program becomes more popular, that obscurity is going to dwindle."

Productivity software suites have long been a target of virus writers, according to Tom Adelstein, an open source advocate and author of several books on Linux. "Kaspersky is making a big deal about this [proof of concept macro virus] because it [targets] open source," Adelstein said.

Software built on the GNU General Public License is tight and not susceptible to invasion, added Adelstein. "There just isn't a way to really attack Linux or OS X or any of the Unix variants -- once you compile it, it's like iron," he said.

Sherman expects antivirus software will expand its scope of protection to include attacks on open source applications. "Frankly, I don't think the appearance of a threat against [open source] programs is going to affect their use or adoption one bit," Sherman said.