Macro Viruses Find A New Prey

software macro OpenOffice StarOffice

Although macro viruses of old targeted Microsoft Office applications, the proof-of-concept macrodubbed by Kaspersky, Woburn, Mass., as Virus.StarOffice.Stardust.a is the first that is "theoretically capable" of affecting 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, said the fact that virus writers are beginning to focus on 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 everyone should use them and not Microsoft, which [they say] is full of holes," Cocanower said.

Jeffrey Sherman, president of solution provider Warever Computing, Los Angeles, added, "I don't think anyone really thinks open-source apps are completely safe from attacks. Until 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 the prey of virus writers, according to Tom Adelstein, the author of several books on Linux. "Kaspersky is making a big deal about this [macro virus] because it [targets] open source," he said.

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

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