Apple Security Updates Targets Mac OS X Leopard, Flashback Trojan

Apple released two updates on May 14 to remove older versions of Adobe Flash Player and thwart the infamous Flashback Trojan.

Apple released a pair of security updates May 14 for Mac OS X 10.5 to disable outdated versions of Adobe Systems' Flash Player and fight off Flashback infections.

The Flashback Trojan was at the center of news reports last month when it was discovered attackers had used it to build a botnet of more than 550,000 Mac computers. The malware spread by exploiting a now-patched vulnerability in Java. In response to the attacks, Apple released an update to remove Flashback infections on Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) last month.

€œIf the Flashback malware is found, it presents a dialog notifying the user that malware was removed,€ Apple stated in an advisory about the Flashback removal tool. €œThere is no indication to the user if malware is not found.€

The removal tool also disables the Java plug-in for the Safari browser. Instructions on how to re-enable it can be found here.

In addition, Apple also released an update that removed versions of Flash Player older than That version of Flash Player was released by Adobe in November 2010. The update presents the opportunity to install a new version of Flash from the Adobe Website. If the Adobe Flash Player or older is found, the update moves the files to a new directory, according to Apple.

€œThis additional level of protection when it comes to Safari users running Flash is good to see€”as Adobe's software is so frequently exploited by malware authors and malicious hackers to infect Web surfers,€ blogged Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

€œIt's encouraging to see Apple has not left users of this older version of the Mac OS X operating system completely out in the cold when it comes to protecting against the latest threats,€ he added. €œClearly, they [realize] that it's not good for the Apple Mac's image if older computers connected to the Internet are [harboring] malware that could cause problems for others in the Mac community.€

Brad Arkin, director of product security and privacy at Adobe, said that the single most important piece of advice the company gives to users is to stay up-to-date and applauded Apple for pushing the update out to users.

€œThe vast majority of users who ever encountered a security problem using Adobe products were attacked via a known vulnerability that was patched in more recent versions of the software,€ he blogged.

€œThis is why we€™ve invested so much in the Adobe Reader/Acrobat update mechanism introduced in 2010, and more recently in the Flash Player background updater delivered in March of this year and used for the first time with last week€™s Flash Player security update. Both update mechanisms give Windows users the option to install updates automatically, without user interaction. A Mac version of the Flash Player background updater is currently in beta and will be available very soon€”stay tuned.€