The Number of Macs Infected Dropped Precipitously

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2012-04-15 Print this article Print

In an April 11 blog post, officials with security software maker Symantec said that the number of infections worldwide had dropped to 270,000.

It also illustrated perceived shortcomings in Apple€™s response. The flaw itself was not in the Mac hardware, but in Java that users had downloaded onto their Macs. Oracle had patched Windows PCs weeks ago, but Apple€”which doesn€™t let third-parties update Apple systems€”didn€™t sent out the patch until April 3, about the same time Doctor Web and, soon after, Kaspersky Lab found that more than 600,000 Macs had become infected.

Flashback was first detected last year, running as a classic Trojan by masquerading as an update to Adobe Flash. However, new variants discovered in March showed it had evolved into a drive-by exploit, infecting the systems of Mac users who surfed to a compromised or malicious Website.

Within days, a host of security software vendors, including Kaspersky, Intego and F-Secure, began rolling out free tools designed to detect and remove the Flashback malware. Meanwhile, Apple officials on April 10 broke their silence, saying their engineers were working on a similar tool, which was released two days later. When F-Secure released its own tool April 11, Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen criticized Apple€™s slow response to Flashback as inadequate.

€œApple has announced that it's working on a fix for the malware, but has given no schedule for it,€ Hypponen wrote in a post on the company€™s blog April 11. €œQuite surprisingly, Apple hasn't added detection for Flashback€”by far the most widespread OS X malware ever€”to the built-in Xprotect OS X antivirus tool. Also note that Apple has not provided a patch for the Java vulnerability used by Flashback for OS X v10.5 (or earlier).€


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