Apple Hackers Encounter a Poetic Warning
By MAY WONG
AP Technology Writer
Published February 17, 2006, 12:04 AM CST
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple Computer Inc. has resorted
to a poetic broadside in the inevitable cat-and-mouse game between
hackers and high-tech companies.
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
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.
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, Inc."
Apple also put in a separate hidden message, "Don't Steal Mac OS X.kext," in another spot for would-be hackers.
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."
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
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
But Apple has repeatedly said it will not do that.
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.