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13 Apr 2004

Mac OS X MP3 Trojan horse threat overhyped, says Sophos

An Apple iMac computerVirus researchers at Sophos have reassured customers that a recently publicised Mac OS X Trojan horse does not pose a threat.

Mac/Amphimix-A (also known as MAC.Amphimix, MacOS/Amphimix, MP3Concept or MP3Virus.gen) is a Macintosh program which is also a properly-formed MP3 file.

When the program is launched it displays a dialog box to say "Yep, this is an application. (So what is your iTunes playing now?)".

Amphimix displays a dialog box
The dialog box displayed by Amphimix

The program then tries to load the Amphimix file into the iTunes player as an MP3 music file. The MP3 component of the file contains a track called "Wild Laugh", a four second burst of manic laughter.

Mac/Amphimix-A first appeared as a 'proof-of-concept' on the internet (even though the concept of Mac programs under disguise is not a new one), and was widely reported by the media as a "new form of Mac OS X virus". But it is neither specific to Mac OS X, nor is it a virus.

"Amphimix has been written as a 'demonstration' to highlight a vulnerability in Apple's software," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "However, Mac users do not need to be alarmed. Frankly, the average Mac owner is more likely to receive a text message from David Beckham at the moment than to find themselves on the receiving end of this code."

The code does not replicate and does not cause any harm to a user's system.

Sophos recommends that although the vast majority of viruses are written for Windows computers, Macintosh users should still protect their computers from virus attack. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac OS X offers comprehensive virus detection and disinfection against Macintosh, macro and PC viruses. It checks local hard disks, removable media and networks, operating in on-access and on-demand modes. Its unique architecture intelligently determines which files need to be virus checked with a minimal performance overhead.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at