Over Half-Million Macs Targeted by Flashback Trojan

on Thursday, April 5, 2012

I was always told from my Apple Mac friends, that a Mac could rarely get a computer virus. In reality, the majority of technologies can be targeted for computer viruses. Macs can in fact get a computer virus, but the chances of this happening is far lower compared to a PC. The newer Mac operating system is built on the Unix kernel which is one of the oldest and most secure operating systems.  Although a Mac is less likely to contract a computer virus, it is actually the person  operating the computer that can become a victim of Trojan horses, phishing, and other online fraud.

On April 4th I came across a news article outlining that more than 600,000 Macs were infected with a “Flashback botnet”. To simplify this Trojan, it is malware designed to steal personal information. Approximately 57% of the Macs infected are in the United States, while another 20% in Canada. This malware was originally found in 2011 disguised to resemble an Adobe Flash Player plug-in installer, but over the past few months the Trojan has been targeting Java in Mac systems. Apple recently released a Java update to address the vulnerability that’s being exploited to infect Mac computers.

Here’s how the Trojan works… If you visit a website that contains malicious Web content that contains Flashback on an OS X system with Java installed, this will result in one of two installation routes. The malware will request an administrator password, if the password is supplied then it will install the package including code in the Applications folder on your Mac. If the password is not provided, the malware will install into the user accounts. After the malware is installed on the OS X system, Flashback will place the code into Web browsers and other applications that request passwords with the intention to steal personal information!

If you are currently working off of a Mac, it is recommended that you install the latest Java patch released by Apple. A software security company F-Secure released steps on how to determine if your Mac computer is infected and ways to disinfect your computer from the Trojan.

While Apple Mac computers and the OS X operating system is less likely to get a virus or Trojan, it is important to remember that security begins with the user first. Whenever personal information is at risk (passwords, e-mails, telephone numbers, SSN), it is important to be sure you take the proper steps to protect yourself and your computer. There are plenty of cost benefits to investing in an Anti-Virus software, and also several free versions that work just as well. 

It’s always been argued, primarily by Microsoft fanboys, that Apple was never a target of malicious attacks because their market share was insignificant.  This recent event should be a warning for some businesses. Having the hottest products in the world and some of the most rapid growth for any company in history, is not all roses.  Every businesses is prone to pain.

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