We often see messages about updates that are available for our computer. Many simply click the ‘x’ to tell them to go away, with every intention of doing it later. Malware such as ‘Flashback’ is the reason you should do it NOW!
‘Flashback’ has infected well over 500,000 Macs around the world through an exploit in Java software. The scary thing is that it can quietly make itself at home on your system without user interaction.
That being said, applying the patch and updating Java protects against this trojan. If you’re computer isn’t already pestering you to do so, get the latest version from Apple Software Update on your Mac.
Malicious web pages are taking advantage of the exploit, relying on the fact that most Mac users are convinced that Macs are ‘invincible’ to infections, which is certainly NOT true.
“Websites [exploit] a Java flaw that let Flashback.K download itself onto Macs without warning, the PCMag article goes on to say. “It then asked users to supply an administrative password, but even without that password, the malware was already installed.”
So What Exactly Does It Do?
Flashback is a trojan designed to steal personal information and login and password details, and send them to remote servers.
Flashback relies on most users’ ignorance – they will either tell the update message to go away, unless told it is required to play an online game or perform another task. In that case, many users click ‘next, next, next’ without really paying attention to what they are installing, or the source of the file, and thus become infected.
Any piece of software that uses Java, including the web browser, or Skype, is vulnerable if using older versions of the Java software.
“Instead of simply using Java’s current public release,” says an article on CNET. “[Apple] creates and maintains its own versions. As it turns out, the malware writers exploited one particular vulnerability that Oracle patched in February. Apple didn’t get around to fixing its own Java version until last week.”
How Do I Make Sure I Don’t Have It, or Get Rid of It?
The built-in Mac malware scanner, XProtect, can now detect and remove it, as can NOD32. That said, if you’re using an older version of Mac OS X (10.5 or earlier), Apple isn’t supplying updates for that software anymore, so you’ll still be vulnerable.
CNET’s article goes on to explain how to to manually detect if your Mac is infected, but we strongly recommend having someone from Nerds On Site check and potentially remove it for you.
Malicious Software Isn’t Going Away
It’s worth noting that even if you system is patched, regardless of operating system, the ‘bad guys’ are finding ways to get around it. The only true way to not get infected is to pay attention to what you’re installing and making sure it’s from reputable companies and websites. Never trust on blind faith. Always be aware, because malicious software isn’t going away anytime soon.