updated 12/12/2012 5:17:28 PM ET 2012-12-12T22:17:28

Apple users who think they're immune to malware and other bugs need to pay attention: A new Trojan is infecting Apple computers in order to obtain victims' phone numbers and rob them via unexpected premium SMS charges.

The Trojan, which masks itself as downloadable software, presents victims with a legitimate-looking installation wizard that asks for their phone number in order to verify or authenticate the install.

Of course, that's nonsense. The only time an application should request your phone number or ask for a code sent to your phone is when logging into a secure part of the Web with two-step authentication, such as an online banking profile or email account. Legitimate installers, which typically don't need to be connected to the Internet in order to work, have no use for your phone number.

Once the code from the cellphone is entered, though, victims have unknowingly agreed to be enrolled into an expensive subscription to gibberish text messages.

Dr. Web, the Russian anti-virus company who discovered the new Mac threat, said the Trojan was made with ZipMonster, a popular Russian-language file compression tool in widespread use among hackers and cybercriminals.

Toll fraud, as scams like this are called, is quickly becoming one of the most serious threats to smartphone users, especially those using Android devices, Kaspersky's Threatpost blog reported.

The vast majority of malware, Trojans and other malicious bugs are meant to run on Windows machines and therefore often aren't a threat to Macs. But as Apple continues to increase its market share, security experts have predicted the end of Apple customers' happy days very soon.

Malicious programs for Macs are popping up with more frequency, but they're still rare. All computer users are advised to treat unfamiliar Web pages and links with skepticism, even if they appear to come from a trusted source. Users of all stripes— not just Mac owners — should install and continue to update their anti-virus software.

Follow Ben on Twitter@benkwx.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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