Malware and Macs

Back at the start of the 21st century we all knew about malware.

There was a very specific meaning to the phrase “computer virus” – it was software that did very, very bad things to your computer and you generally knew all about it straight away. Fixes were painful and expensive, but you knew you had a problem and, if you’d been stung before, you were far more likely to have backups of your most precious files.

Today’s malware most definitely doesn’t want you to know that it’s there. It’s not about malicious programmers causing havoc for the fun of it, it’s about money and identity.

For some time Mac users were largely immune from this kind of thing, but the recent outbreak of the Flashback Trojan proves that Mac security wasn’t solely a function of its Unix underpinnings or any other kind of inbuilt security measure. It was more to do with the size of the market which malware writers could target.

Mac users were just far too few!

Flashback is a nasty little trojan that tries to get your Mac connected up to a network of other machines for illicit purposes. The current outbreak relates to weaknesses in the default version of Java shipped with the current version of the Mac operating system.

Flashback trojan reportedly controls half a million Macs and counting

So what’s the sensible end-user approach?

For a start, an anti-malware package — no matter your choice of computer — is an absolute must.

And it does still pay to be wary about what you’re installing.

Running software updates which you trust from your operating system provider — whether that’s Apple or Microsoft or any of the countless Linux variants out there — should also be a must-do kind of activity.

As for the Flashback outbreak, Apple released an update to its Java package that blocks further infections but, if you’re not updated, you’re simply not protected.

Likewise, any anti-virus package is only as good as its updates.

Don’t forget to back up your files frequently

More on Flashback

What you need to know about the Flashback trojan
Where did Flashback start? Blame the blogosphere