Most likely you’ve heard the news that the latest virus attack happening is not on servers or PCs, but is happening to Apple Mac computers. Called the Flashback Trojan, the malware is a software program that installs itself onto people’s Macs and then wreaks havoc.
Part of the reason this malware is gaining ground so quickly is that most Mac owners have been under the impression that they don’t need anti-virus or protection software for their systems. After all, viruses don’t infect Macs. Right? They’re just a PC thing.
Wrong. There have been several attacks before, though most didn’t make the news as they were generally short-lived (as are most PC viruses, to be fair). This one, however, is believed to be infecting at least 600,000 Mac computers worldwide, most of them in the U.S. and Canada.Kapersky Lab in Moscow, Russia was the first to notice the infections and alert Apple and the world. Most infections are on Mac OS X hosts. The trojan horse itself is unusual in that it can be automatically downloaded from a website (no user interaction required), installs itself without requiring the OS installer or user password, and then runs on its own without the user needing to activate it. It does so thanks to the intimate tie between the Mac OS X, popular Web browsers for Mac like Safari, and Java.
Interestingly, since blowing the whistle on the malware, Kapersky and Dr. Web, security firms in Russia, have managed to reverse engineer the Flashback and use its setup to put together monitoring sites that watch for ‘pings’ from the installed trojan. From that, they’ve estimated the number of infections to be 600,000 at minimum and believe it’s spreading quickly.
Apple has remained mum on the topic and has, reports say, actually tried to attack Dr. Web. According to Forbes, Boris Sharov, CEO of Dr. Web, states that Apple has had to have some of their servers shut down – servers that are monitoring the Flashback Trojan. He says this is almost assuredly because Apple has no idea how to deal with it and is assuming that Dr. Web’s servers are part of the attack, not monitors analyzing its spread.
Why would Apple do that?
Because the company, it turns out, has no idea how to deal with something like this. Apple has never really been open about much of anything and has few (if any) ties to the security industry that surrounds the anti-virus and malware fields.
Because of this lack of experience and corporate culture of insulated mouth-zipping, Apple appears to have found itself completely unable to handle this situation. This is confirmed by the fact that Apple has not returned contact requests and dialogue from Dr. Web and other security firms involved in monitoring and attempting to deal with the Flashback phenomenon.
Kapersky, however, has issued a statement that Apple appears to be trying appropriate action and talking to some American-based firms about the issue. Apple, of course, sees this in typical Apple fashion: it’s a brand issue.
Either way, those who enjoy their Macs and who’ve believed themselves immune from malware attacks need to rethink things. Installing and using protection programs isn’t just for PC users anymore.