Mac Flashback Virus Infects 600,000: What Can You Do?

Security has often been cited as one of the big advantages Mac computers have over their Windows counterparts.

Windows users were under constant assault from viruses, Trojans, spyware, and malware of all kinds.

Mac users remained blissfully above the fray. Most never even considered buying or even installing a free computer security program.

Until last week.

Mac Flashback Virus Worldwide Outbreak Map

Where the Flashback Virus Has Spread

More than 600,00 Mac users were found to be infected with the Flashback Trojan, malware that exploits a Java security flaw to install itself on Macs. Most infected computers (56.6%) are in the U.S.

This isn’t the first Mac attack by any means. Just a year ago there was a fairly large attack called MacDefender.

But more people use Macs now and Flashback has gotten a lot of publicity, leading some to say it has, once and for all, ended Mac’s no-virus reputation.

Now for some comforting news for Mac users: though it’s a large infection, Flashback probably has only infected around 1% of Macs according to some estimates.

Secondly, Apple has already launched a couple of updates to identify and protect against Flashback, so if you get a Mac OS update notice, please don’t ignore it. You can also run your Mac’s Software Update at any time.

Keep in mind, however, that Apple’s Flashback security updates are only for OSX v10.7 and v10.6. Users with earlier operating systems who are concerned are encouraged by Apple to disable Java in their browser preferences. Here is more information about Flashback from Apple.

Though Apple is still working on a Flashback detection and removal tool, there are free 3rd party options available now.

Security vendor Dr.Web has a free online tool to check your system for the Flashback malware (specifically, Backdoor.Flashback.39). All you need to do is enter your Mac’s UUID (don’t worry, there are instructions on how to find it). Keep in mind, this is just a detection, not a removal tool.

Another security vendor, F-Secure, is offering a free tool that automatically detects and removes Flashback from your Mac. Download the free tool here and read the installation instructions.

If you are an EarthLink member and Mac user interested in ongoing protection for your computer, you can take advantage of these Special Offers on Norton Security software from our security partner Symantec.

Keeping your Anti-virus definitions up to date

Having virus protection is extremely important, however, having updated virus protection is even more important. Here are a few things you should check to be sure your computer is protected.
1) Make sure you renew your anti-virus subscription each year with your anti-virus vendor. Most anti-virus products include one year of software updates for free. These updates help keep your anti-virus software up to date with the latest threats. If you allow your subscription expire you will not longer receive updates. Your anti-virus software will alert you when your subscription is about to expire. You MUST renew your subscription to obtain the latest software updates and protect your computer from new threats.
2) Update your virus definitions. Thousands of new viruses are created and released each day. Your anti-virus software should be configured to update your anti-virus software with the latest virus information. Not sure if your software is up to date? Check your anti-virus software vendor’s website for information on how to check to ensure your software is up-to-date.
3) Look at your AV console regularly for important changes..
4) Perform a weekly virus scan. Anti-virus software may be configured to scan your computer weekly. Check your anti-virus software’s main console screen to ensure scans are scheduled weekly.
Keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and performing virus scans weekly will help protect your computer from new threats. Not using anti-virus software? Protection Control Center software is free to EarthLink subscribers.

Protecting Your Computer from Malware

Computer viruses, worms, spyware and Trojan horses (aka Trojans) are all types of malicious software or malware.
Computer viruses can damage your computer or install software without your knowledge. Computer viruses are generally transmitted as email attachments or through USB flash drives. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on your computer, use your e-mail program to spread itself to other computers, or even erase files on your hard drive.
Computer worms are designed to spread from computer to computer across a network usually without any human interaction. Worms exploit vulnerabilities (like weak passwords or software bugs) to gain access to a target computer.

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