By MAY WONG, AP Technology Writer
Apple Computer Inc. has resorted to a poetic broadside in the
inevitable cat-and-mouse game between hackers and high-tech companies.
The maker of Macintosh computers had anticipated that hackers would
try to crack its new OS X operating system built to work on Intel
Corp.'s chips and run pirated versions on non-Apple computers. So,
Apple developers embedded a warning deep in the software - in the form
of a poem.
Indeed, a hacker encountered the poem recently, and a copy of it has been
circulating on Mac-user Web sites this week.
Apple confirmed Thursday it has included such a warning in its
Intel-based computers since it started selling them in January.
The embedded poem reads: "Your karma check for today: There once was a
user that whined/his existing OS was so blind/he'd do better to
pirate/an OS that ran great/but found his hardware declined./Please
don't steal Mac OS!/Really, that's way uncool./(C) Apple Computer,
Apple also put in a separate hidden message, "Don't Steal Mac OS
X.kext," in another spot for would-be hackers.
"We can confirm that this text is built into our products," Apple
issued in a statement. "Hopefully it, and many other legal warnings,
will remind people that they should not steal Mac OS X."
The hacking endeavors are, for now, relegated to a small, technically
savvy set, but it underscores a risk Apple faces if a pirated,
functional version eventually becomes as accessible and
straightforward as installing other software on a computer.
It's a risk that became apparent after Apple decided to make a
historic transition to Intel-based chips, the same type that its
rivals use in predominant Windows-based PCs. Apple previously relied
on Power PC chips from IBM Corp. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc., but
this year began switching its computers to the Intel platform.
Various analysts have since hypothesized a worst-case situation in
which Apple would lose control of its proprietary Macintosh
environment: how its reputedly easy-to-use and elegant operating
system would no longer be locked to its computers, a critical revenue
pipeline for Apple.
Such scenarios have raised a debate among Apple observers about
whether the company should just license its operating system to run on
other machines, similar to Microsoft Corp.
But Apple has repeatedly said it will not do that.
Meanwhile, security experts on Thursday identified a new computer worm
that specifically targets Mac computers running OS X -- a rarity since
most worms target the broader base of PCs with Microsoft's
Windows. Experts, however, consider the threat low.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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