Dec. 20, 2012 at 2:04 PM ET
On the eve of what some believe will be the end of the world, hackers are preying on doomsday curiosity with a malicious PowerPoint file that purports to be a presentation on the Mayan-based prediction.
Like the nasty Sudoku puzzle generator from earlier this week, this Mayan myth malware needs the user to enable macros for it to infect. According to SophosLabs, the macro is "functionally identical" to the one in the Sudoku bug.
Once users turn on the Visual Basic scripting language needed to run macros for programs like Microsoft Excel, the malware is able to build a portable executable file, which downloads a photo of an owl.
Sophos said the malware is programmed to download an additional file but that, during testing, the bug received no instructions from the command and control server.
The PowerPoint presentation, once legitimate, was created by a preacher who has nothing to do with the infectious iteration. A SophosLabs researcher reported that his blog is now riddled with SEO garbage pushing phony Viagra and payday loans, and with other lowest-common-denominator trash.
Never enable macros on downloads or received attachments, especially from unknown sources. With all downloads, it's a good idea to have a healthy sense of skepticism. And if you're just dying to see what that Mayan calendar PowerPoint is all about, a safe version is available here.
Copyright 2012 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Copyright 2013 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.