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A Mac service technician used spyware to take shots of unsuspecting young women, some of whom were undressed.   (Source:

The malware would pop up OS X messages that looked like system warnings, like this one. The warnings were designed to lure young women to take their computer with them while showering.  (Source:

Trevor Harwell's plot was foiled after police searched his computers after a victim received a tip from a local service tech.  (Source: Fullerton Police Department)
Obviously he didn't get the memo that Mac's are unaffected by malicious software

Trevor Harwell, a 20-year-old Los Angeles, California area certified Mac repair specialist is in a load of trouble after police discovered his unusual hobby -- installing spyware on female clients' Macs and using it to take naughty pictures of them remotely.

The young man's scheme was discovered when one of the victims took her Mac to a local Apple, Inc. (AAPL) Genius Bar, complaining that her Mac was popping up odd OS X system warnings.  

The warnings were actually fake, but designed to look like standard system warnings.  One of the warnings informed her, "You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor."

The message reportedly was designed to try to trick the female victims into taking the computer with them into the shower.

The Apple technician then discovered a piece of Mac malware called Camcapture installed on the machine.  They informed the young woman, "You need to call police."

After contacting the police, Mr. Harwell's Fullerton, California residence was raided and police seized electronics.  Thousands of images were found on the seized computers, all whom thus far have been identified as residents of Los Angeles and Orange County.  Mr. Harwell was arrested Wednesday.

Mr. Harwell's scheme was sophisticated.  Not only did the installed software allow for remote control commands of the webcam, according to Fullerton police spokesman Andrew Goodrich, "It would let his server know that the victim's machine was on. The server would then notify his smartphone... and then the images were recorded on his home computer."

The photos contained women both dressed and unclothed.  The popups apparently tricked several women into taking their laptops with them into the bathroom while showering (to give the laptop its requested "steam" treatment.

Mr. Harwell's business was named Rezitech and was operated out of his home.  Police believe there may be more victims out there, still.  Those who had contact with Mr. Harwell are advised to look in the "/Library/WebServer/Documents" folder where the spyware was typically installed.

Apple fans tend to have the false perception that Macs aren't affected by malware or that only some minuscule percentage are affected by it.  In reality, the platform is home to a diverse and growing body of malware, much like its operating system counterpart from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Windows.  A recent malware attack infected 1 in 20 Mac computers, according to service technician reports.  That'd be akin to a virus on Windows that infected 65 million Windows PCs -- almost unheard of [source].

Mr. Harwell had a fundamentalist upbringing, reportedly, attending Biola University, a small, private evangelical Christian college in southern California.  Many of the victims were Biola students, and police believe he may have compromised university systems as well.

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RE: misrepresenting facts again...
By GuinnessKMF on 6/10/2011 12:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
So it's entirely impossible in your mind that service technician's reports weren't used to determine how many Macs were infected, used estimates as to how many Macs are currently in use, and then did this crazy thing called math to figure out the ratio.

RE: misrepresenting facts again...
By UnWeave on 6/10/2011 1:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
If you checked the DailyTech article linked to, you'd find:

"Andy says that in the past about 0.2 percent of service Macs were suffering from some kind of malware -- "most always DNS trojans." Now that number soared to around 5.8 percent, mostly thanks to MacDefender..."

That is ~1 in 20 Macs serviced found to have malware installed. This article, however (as thornburg correctly pointed out), seems to suggest that 1 in 20 Macs were infected. I don't have actual numbers or estimates from security firms to hand, but I think it is fair to assume the actual fraction is smaller. Yes, it's growing, but the claim of 1 in 20 is clearly unfounded.

By Alexstarfire on 6/10/2011 2:36:51 PM , Rating: 3
It's not fair nor safe to assume anything other than roughly 1:20 macs serviced were infected. The actual ratio could be higher or lower or even the exact same. You could make a far better guess if you knew the ratio of macs that were/are serviced. We don't know the number or the ratio though.

By Justin Case on 6/11/2011 5:28:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think it is fair to assume the actual fraction is smaller.

What exactly is the logic behind that?

If 20% of cars serviced at a garage have a Celine Dion CD in the glovebox, is it "fair to assume that the actual fraction is lower"?

For all you know, maybe every single Mac that wasn't serviced is infected with MacDefender.

Unless people brought in their Macs to be serviced because they detected they were infected with MacDefender (which doesn't make much sense, because the software that detects it will also clear it, and therefore it won't be there when they take it to the shop), then the sample should be fairly random.

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