It was bound to happen sooner or later and that time has apparently come. Headlines from CNET News last week read “Botnet Goes on Mac Attack”! Veteran (and maybe smug) Mac users often say that they don’t need ant-virus software on their Computers because Macs don’t get malware. PC users know they are vulnerable and generally follow safe practices to minimize infections. As more and more users have adopted the Mac OS; the bad guys have taken notice and realize that there are IDs to be stolen and computers to be taken over in the Mac World as well as the Windows World.
Last week’s story was about the so-called Flashback Trojan which by some estimates has infected 600,000 Macs globally. The intent of the malware is to steal passwords from victims and thereby gain access to personal information. This malware was first identified back in September of 2011 disguised as an Adobe Flash Player plug-in. It has morphed of late to using Java Scripting as its entry point.
I know I promised readers that I would not use too much geeky language, but I am trying to get across that malware often comes in through back doors, little programs and snippets of programs that are used by your browsers to render images, videos and text files so that you can read them or see them in the way the web publisher wants you to see them.
These little programs include Flash Player, Java, Adobe Reader and others and since they can be exploited (even if your OS is patched up to date) we have to keep them updated as well. It’s another layer of protection that we need to keep safe in Cyberspace.
It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to increasing attacks on the Mac OS. They have already issued a patch for the Java vulnerability as well as instructions for removing the infection if you have it.
Meantime what should we do? Firstly for Mac users, keep your OS and other installed programs updated. Apple makes it real easy for you. Simply go to the Apple on your menu bar and look for Software Update to check for new software. Secondly, it’s time to install an anti-virus program. I recommend ClamWin for Mac Systems; have been using it for over a year now and it does not seem to slow down my Mac.
Windows readers should continue to keep your OS updated (you know the drill, every second Tuesday of the month, or on auto). Keep your AV software updated and run regular scans. To keep track of all your other programs, run a program like Secunia’s PSI, then update all the vulnerable programs the PSI scan finds. One caution about Java updates, if you have older versions installed, it’s probably better to uninstall them before you add the latest one. Elect to have future updates done automatically and you might save yourself one minor headache. This is kind of like the War on Terror; it is seemingly never ending.
Till next week, send your questions to: