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Uh Oh, Macs Get Infected with Malware Too!

Posted on April 10, 2012
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One of Apple’s strongest selling points of its Mac computers is that they do not get infected by viruses unlike Windows PCs. Looks like they would have to rethink that one over.

Security researchers discovered this week a new computer virus that so far has infected half a million Macs–about half of them in the United States. And unlike the common malware around, Mac users do not need to manually click on any malicious links or download them to get infect. The trojan simply downloads by itself.

The virus, which has since been dubbed Fakeflash or Flashback, opens a backdoor on every infected Mac, thus providing the malware creators access to the owner’s personal information.

So far, the malware appears to be infesting Macs for click fraud, using the computers to manipulate clicks on a web advertisement in exchange for kickbacks. But like in any malware, its creators can use infected computers however they like, including stealing vital financial data.

The Macs get infected in one of two ways, either by receiving a deceptively credible pop-up prompt claiming to be from Adobe Flash asking users to install an update and type in their password or by exploiting a loophole in Java software that automatically downloads the virus without any prompting.

Apple has gone to panic mode, issuing two security patches and encouraging its dismayed users to run their software updates as soon as possible.

There are also third-party ways to help Mac users. A Finland-based security firm called F-Secure published instructions on how to identify Flashback and remove the malware manually. Doctor Web, the Russian security company that first discovered the trojan, has developed an online tool that allows users to determine whether their Macs have been infected.

This was not actually the first time Mac computers have been hit by a computer virus. A malware called Mac Defender targeted Apple computers on May last year and it took Apple almost a month to publish a fix.

Fakeflash, however, is more widespread and sophisticated than Mac Defender, according to security experts. They add that the reason why Macs do not get infected like Windows PCs because malware creators did not bother making Mac-oriented trojans.

“Criminals realized they could make money targeting Apple users,” said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher at antivirus software company Kaspersky Lab. “As Apple gains more market share, it will also see more attacks.”

Source: New York Times

 
 

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