For years one of the many selling points of buying an Apple computer was the fact that they rarely got a virus or a trojan. Unfortunately for at least 550,000 Mac owners worldwide, they have computers that are infected with the Flashback Trojan. Apple already knows about it and has already sent out a fix but that doesn’t mean that the infected computers are fixed. It’s a bit like shutting the barn door after the horse has gotten out.
According to The Telegraph and Dr.WEB the Flashback Trojan used a previously unpatched but known vulnerability in the update to Java. The Trojan posed as an Adobe Flash update. If your Safari browser was set to automatically open “safe” files than your Mac could be one of those infected.
OSXDaily sets out the following steps that you need to follow to check if your computer is infected.
- Launch Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities/) and enter the following commands:
defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
- If you see a message like “The domain/default pair of (/Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info, LSEnvironment) does not exist” proceed to the next defaults write command:
defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
- If you see a message similar to “The domain/default pair of (/Users/joe/.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist” then the Mac is NOT infected.
If you find that your computer is infected then you will want to head over to F-Secure and follow those steps.
Now 550,000 might sound like a lot of computers, but this is nothing compared to the number of PCs that have been infected with viruses and trojans. ZDNet reported in January of 2010 that almost half of 22 million computers worldwide were infected with viruses, malware, trojans and/or crimeware. This past January a computer lab at San Franciso City College was shut down because there was an “an infestation of viruses that compromised a great number of servers and desktop computers across the college district’s administrative, instructional and wireless networks." One computer had been transmitting information to Russia and China for the last 10 years.
So yes, Apple Macs can indeed get hit by malware but compared to the number of PCs that have gotten infected, this little episode with the Flashback Trojan is miniscule compared to the epidemics that PCs seem prone to catch.