Apple has long enjoyed the reputation of making a computing platform that provides security protection that is superior to its peers—in a word, Microsoft. The emergence of a group of malicious software (malware) programs in recent months—collectively known as Flashback or Flashfake—that specifically target Macs and their OS X operating system now has Apple in the unfamiliar position of being on the defensive.
Easy Target: Much of apple’s growing Mac user base does not use antivirus software or proactively update software, leaving them exposed to attacks such as Flashback.
Written as a Trojan horse program, Flashback has infected hundreds of thousands of Macs to date, allowing cyber criminals to steal information from those computers and turn many of them into virtual zombies that can be manipulated to attack other computers. This is not the first time Apple has had to contend with a malware outbreak, but it is by far the largest and most public scar sullying the company’s aura of invincibility.
What can Mac users do?
Mac users should immediately download and install the patch Oracle supplied via Apple. Windows users shouldn’t rest easy though. The vulnerability, after all, lies in Java, a software platform required to run many programs regardless of OS, on desktops, servers, and mobile devices. Windows users can get the patch for the said vulnerability though we highly recommend updating to the latest version of Java.
Patching vulnerabilities is important to ensure that systems remain clean and uninfected, especially those that are used for work. While the Flashback Trojan has not been found to have the ability to spread throughout networks, it can download other malware that can, so beware.