Threat Explorer

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09 December 2018
09 May 2019
Systems Affected:
OSX.Trojan.Gen.2 is a generic detection for many individual but varied OS X Trojans for which specific definitions have not been created. A generic detection is used because it protects against many Trojans that share similar characteristics.

Trojan horse programs pose as legitimate programs or files that users may recognize and want to use. They rely on this trick to lure a user into inadvertently running the Trojan. Often a Trojan will mimic a well known legitimate file name or pose as a particular type of file, like a .jpg or .doc file to trick a user.

Distribution of Trojans on to compromised computers occurs in a variety of ways. From email attachments and links to instant messages, drive-by downloads and being dropped by other malicious software. Once installed on the compromised computer, the Trojan begins to perform the predetermined actions that it was designed for.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version 09 December 2018
  • Latest Rapid Release version 15 January 2020 revision 019
  • Initial Daily Certified version 09 December 2018
  • Latest Daily Certified version 14 January 2020 revision 022
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date 12 December 2018
Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.
OSX.Trojan.Gen.2 is a generic detection for many individual but varied OS X Trojans for which specific definitions have not been created. A generic detection is used because it protects against many Trojans that share similar characteristics.

Background information
Trojan horse programs masquerade as applications or files that entice users to open them. A Trojan horse may copy itself on to the compromised computer, but it doesn't make copies of itself and spread like a virus which is a key difference between a Trojan and a virus.

While most Trojans only execute their own malicious code, some Trojans may actually perform the actions of the file they pretend to be, but then they execute their own malicious code on the compromised computer. Other Trojans make it appear that they are performing the desired actions, but in reality do nothing but trigger their malicious routines.

Trojans arrive on to compromised computers in a variety of ways. These methods distribute the Trojan, often as rapidly as possible, so that the Trojan can maximize the opportunity to perform its main function in a large user population before they are detected by antivirus software.

One of the most common methods is for the Trojan to be spammed as an email attachment or a link in an email. Another similar method has the Trojan arriving as a file or link in an instant messaging client. These methods often rely on social engineering techniques to tempt the user to click on the link or open the file since many of these emails and instant messages appear to come from people the user knows. These techniques will play on a user's curiosity about the big new item such as a celebrity scandal, crisis, catastrophe, or major global event.

Another means of arrival includes a method called drive-by downloads. A drive-by download occurs when a user goes to a website that is either legitimate, but compromised and exploited or malicious by design. The download occurs surreptitiously without the user's knowledge. Alternatively, the user is asked to update or add a video codec when at a malicious website. When the user complies with this request, they inadvertently download a Trojan pretending to be the video codec.

Finally, a Trojan horse program can be dropped or downloaded by other malicious software or by legitimate programs that have been compromised or exploited on the compromised computer.

Who creates Trojans?
Trojan horse programs were once created by malware authors for an assortment of reasons, most especially the infamy of destruction and damage and to make a name for themselves by proving they could write malicious programs. Trojans are now generally created by malware authors with the intent of making a profit.

What happens after the Trojan is installed?
Once it is executed on the compromised computer, a Trojan horse program may create files and registry entries. It may copy itself to various locations. It may start a service or inject itself into processes and then carry out its primary functions.

What can Trojans do?
Trojans can perform a large variety of actions. Some Trojan actions that are most commonly seen include:
  • Distributed Denial of Service
  • Downloading files
  • Dropping additional malware
  • Disabling security-related programs
  • Opening a back door
  • Stealing confidential and financial information

Are there any tell-tale signs?
As deception is one of the hallmarks of Trojan horse programs, many will run with as much stealth as possible. This means that, in the majority of cases, there will not be any obvious tell-tale signs that they are running on a computer. However, there are some Trojans that may display messages or dialog boxes and some that may display picture files or open a text file.

What are the risks?

Damage from Trojans range from a relatively minimal risk of annoyance and nuisance to a high risk of destruction or loss to the user. Hidden files, modified registry entries and annoying but harmless displays of pictures or error messages are examples of some of the low risk actions associated with Trojans.

On the other end of the scale, the potential for identity theft is high and is a risk considered to be personally damaging to a user. Another high and potentially destructive risk is the opening of a back door that can allow a remote attacker access to the compromised computer to perform many actions, such as:
  • Create administrator accounts
  • Participate in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
  • Provide confidential computer information
  • Redirect GRE, TCP, HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS4, and SOCKS5 traffic

What can I do to minimize the risks?
Back door server and Trojan horse programs often use enticing file names to trick users into executing them. Do not open or execute files from unknown sources.

As a general rule, users should always run up-to-date antivirus software with real-time protection such as Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360 or Symantec Endpoint Protection . In addition, a firewall -- or better still, an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) -- will help to block download activities initiated by these types of malicious programs. Program controls such as those found in Symantec Endpoint Protection can also help to prevent programs such as these from executing in the first place.

How can I find out more?

Advanced users can submit a sample to Threat Expert to obtain a detailed report of the system and file system changes caused by a threat.


Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":

  • Use a firewall to block all incoming connections from the Internet to services that should not be publicly available. By default, you should deny all incoming connections and only allow services you explicitly want to offer to the outside world.
  • Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.
  • Ensure that programs and users of the computer use the lowest level of privileges necessary to complete a task. When prompted for a root or UAC password, ensure that the program asking for administration-level access is a legitimate application.
  • Disable AutoPlay to prevent the automatic launching of executable files on network and removable drives, and disconnect the drives when not required. If write access is not required, enable read-only mode if the option is available.
  • Turn off file sharing if not needed. If file sharing is required, use ACLs and password protection to limit access. Disable anonymous access to shared folders. Grant access only to user accounts with strong passwords to folders that must be shared.
  • Turn off and remove unnecessary services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, threats have less avenues of attack.
  • If a threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.
  • Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.
  • Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.
  • Isolate compromised computers quickly to prevent threats from spreading further. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.
  • Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.
  • If Bluetooth is not required for mobile devices, it should be turned off. If you require its use, ensure that the device's visibility is set to "Hidden" so that it cannot be scanned by other Bluetooth devices. If device pairing must be used, ensure that all devices are set to "Unauthorized", requiring authorization for each connection request. Do not accept applications that are unsigned or sent from unknown sources.
  • For further information on the terms used in this document, please refer to the Security Response glossary.
The following instructions pertain to all current and recent Symantec antivirus products for Mac.
  1. Update the virus definitions.
  2. Run a full system scan and repair or delete all the files detected.
For specific details on each of these steps, read the following instructions.

1. To update the virus definitions
To obtain the most recent virus definitions run LiveUpdate: These virus definitions are posted to the LiveUpdate servers regularly. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by LiveUpdate, refer to the Virus Definitions (LiveUpdate) .

2. To scan for and delete the infected files
  • Start your Norton AntiVirus or Symantec Endpoint Protection for Mac program and make sure that it is configured to scan all files.
  • Run a full system scan.
  • If any files are detected, click Repair (if available) or Delete.