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.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.