(and what you can do about it)
For years, Apple Mac users have been able to smugly preach security supremacy over fellow Windows users. Apple computers were less susceptible to viruses because they accounted for such a small share of hack-able devices. With the explosive growth of Mac laptops, iPads and iPhones, that honeymoon is all but a nostalgic memory. Apple’s Mac OS X no longer has impunity from virus infection. For the second time in the last year, Apple’s OS X has been successfully breached by malware. Here are the details, and steps you MUST take to protect yourself:
Flashback Trojan Facts:
- The Flashback Trojan has currently infected more than 600,000 Macs.
- Flashback is a ‘drive-by’ virus, meaning users only have to visit a site that exploits the flaw; you don’t have to download anything to be at risk.
- The flaw exploits weaknesses in Java coding, an fairly essential and widely used web browsing tool.
- First, the Trojan loads software onto your system that directs victims to additional malware.
- Once the malware is installed, the Trojan steals passwords and banking info from Safari.
Tips for Protecting Your Mac:
- Immediately download and install all Apple updates and security patches (the latest of which corrects the Java flaw).
- Configure your system to download and install security and software updates automatically as they are released.
- Make sure you are using the Apple version of Java that is patched for this virus (Java 6 update 31 or greater).
- Consider installing ant-virus software or a security suite on your Apple computer, much like would on your Windows systems.
- Check to see if your Mac has been infected with the Flashback Trojan.
- If you suspect that your Mac has been infected, visit F-Secure’s website and follow its removal instructions.
- For casual users, consider doing away with Java all together. The Web itself provides the processing power previously provided by Java.
- Don’t fall prey to the belief that as a Mac user, you are immune to viruses, trojans and malware. Actually, you are probably now more exposed than Windows users, who have been building their defenses for years.
The Apple virus-free honeymoon has been long and satisfying. But as with all relationships, it’s time for you move into a more mature, long lasting companionship.
John Sileo is an award-winning author and speaker on protecting the sensitive data that makes your business run (even the data you access on your iPad, iPhone or Macbook). He is the CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises clients on defending privacy and leveraging trust. His clients included the Pentagon, Pfizer & Homeland Security. Sample his keynote presentations or appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper & Fox. 1.800.258.8076.