What are chances opening Word doc on old PowerPC Mac installed malware?
March 26, 2019 8:21 PM   Subscribe

I received an email from someone I'd had a brief email exchange with regarding some technical matters. The email contained an attached macro-enabled Word doc, which I assumed would contain information related to our previous brief discussion. My attempt to open it resulted in no readable information. Is it possible that a keylogger or some other malware could have been installed on my Mac as a result of opening this?

After the first attempt to open it, I wrote to the sender, asking him to resend the text pasted into an email, but I did not hear back. Months later, I received a similar email with attached doc. This time when I wrote back, I received the following response from him:

"I'm very sorry for the inconvenience. This was a phishing attempt by a malicious third party that did not actually come from me. Its a result of a hack of the godaddy servers from a couple years ago.

The attachment is likely a virus, so I'm glad it would not open for you."

Now I'm concerned that a keylogger may have been installed on my machine when I allowed Word to open the file. But just how likely is this on an old Mac like mine (is it any less likely the case because there are now so few systems running pre-Intel Mac OS, or is that pretty much irrelevant)? I read somewhere online that it would not be possible to install a keylogger on a Mac without password authentication; is this true?

I have checked the processes running in Activity Monitor, and I've verified that all active processes are Mac OS (or other installed software) -related (though I do understand that if there were a keylogger running it would not necessarily show up in there). I also have Little Snitch installed; would this likely alert me to any outgoing communication attempts by installed malware, or not?

It's hard to get any clear information about the threat posed by malware to old, deprecated systems like mine. Would only keyloggers written specifically for PowerPC/Mac OS work on my machine?

I welcome and appreciate all comments, observations, and suggestions!
posted by tenderly to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If its a old documented malware using any well known virus program should be enough for detection. Cross compatibility for malware is low, and I don't think you need to worry anyway, but run your malware software and be reassured.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:25 PM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I should have mentioned that there is no up-to-date AV for this ancient OS/platform. The only thing that is still brought up-to-date for it is Firefox (as TenFourFox).

Found this macrumors page after posting, which is encouraging!
posted by tenderly at 8:42 PM on March 26, 2019

The odds of an attacker that's relying on spraying malicious doc files at random people having exploit code that works on the OS X version of Word and then checks to see if they're running PowerPC era OS X and uses an exploit that would work on it is vanishingly small.
posted by Candleman at 12:04 AM on March 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

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