Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Check if your Mac has the Flashback trojan

If you’ve been following the tech news over the past few days, you’ve probably seen a few mentions of the Flashback trojan. It’s been said that over 550,000 Macs have been infected, which is a staggering amount considering the relative safety (or at least the perceived safety) of OS X. The malicious software has been known of for a few months now — it disguised itself as a Flash installer, making it seem like an innocuous addition to your computer, when it was anything but.
But how to do you find out if your Mac is infected with Flashback? It’s surprisingly easy — a tool that will diagnose your computer is available here. You just need to download it, unzip the package, and then run the two applications within. Hopefully you’ll see something like this:


If you were affect, the removal process is outlined here. F-Secure’s instructions look pretty complex, they mostly involve finding the terminal and then copying and pasting.
And, don’t worry, the good folks at Apple are on top of the issue. An update made available today, known as Java for OS X 2012-002, will address the problem. It might seems like a nondescript OS update but it includes two important components. The eponymous one is a Java update that brings Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_31. The other, HT1222, is the security component, though no explanation is offered as to what was specifically changed aside from it dealing with Java.
This is the second update Apple has issued in response to Flashback. And, this time, only OS X 10.7 (Lion) systems received the patch. Java for OS X 2012-002 is available now and does not require a restart. OS X Lion users simply need to go to the Apple icon (on the top left) and then choose “Software Update” to get it.
While Macs are affected, the malware exploits a flaw in Java not OS X specifically (though Apple maintains its own version of Java, so you can look at the situation either way). Even so, this can be seen as a sign of things to come for Mac users — as the operating system get more popular the computers using it will increasingly be a target for attacks like this one. The install base is still relatively small compared to that of Windows, but it’s large enough that OS X is a worthwhile target. The days of OS X users gallivanting around the internet with impunity are over, so get some security software and think twice about what you install.


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