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updated 5/10/2011 4:49:53 PM ET 2011-05-10T20:49:53

A security flaw exists in Skype that can be exploited to directly target Mac users.

The vulnerability can be exploited when a user opens a rigged attachment sent via instant message, The Register reported. Once downloaded, the attacker can gain remote control of the target's computer.

The Skype bug only affects users on Mac's OS X operating system, and leaves Windows and Linux users safe.

Gordon Maddern of the Australian security firm Pure Hacking discovered the flaw more than a month ago; after finding it, he decided to test the severity of the bug by sending it to his girlfriend's Mac, an action that rendered her Skype " unusable for several days."

"It is extremely wormable and dangerous," Maddern said of the Skype bug.

Maddern said he notified Skype of the error; The Register said Skype will release an update to address the problem next week, and that there are currently no reports of the vulnerability being exploited.

This security flaw comes just days after researchers found new malware specifically targeting Mac users, tricking them into purchasing a fake version of the "MacDefender" antivirus software.

UPDATE: On May 9, Skype fixed the flaw by updating to version 5.1.0.935. Mac users can download the new, safer Skype by clicking the "update" button that appears in the dialog box when they launch Skype.

 

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