Flashback Trojan: 10 Things Mac Users Should Know About It

NEWS ANALYSIS: Unlike their PC user counterparts, Mac users don't expect that they will have to respond to a major malware outbreak. But the Flashback Trojan is changing that. While Apple is responding with a fix for Flashback, it's important for Mac users to learn how it could put them at risk.

Although Apple has offered up a patch that will help safeguard Macs from the Flashback Trojan, don€™t expect that this malware quickly fade away. New variants have been discovered in the wild, and Apple is reportedly working on a fix that would, the company hopes, put the Flashback Trojan officially on life support. The issue then, of course, would be getting Mac OS X users to actually install the fix and bring the patch to their device.

But until that happens, there is an awful lot to be concerned about with Flashback. Although it€™s only infected 600,000 Macs worldwide€”a relatively small number in Windows terms€”it€™s a major concern in the Mac OS X ecosystem. There was a common belief that Apple€™s software had a low incidence of security flaws. That reputation has been exploded forever. The sooner Mac OS X users recognize the threat posed by Flashback, the sooner they€™ll be able to safeguard themselves in the future.

Read on to find out more about the Flashback Trojan and to learn about the basic security safeguards that every Mac OS X user should know about:

1. You can see if you€™re infected

Luckily, there is a way for you to determine if your Mac is infected with Flashback. To do so, you€™ll need to switch to the Macintosh Terminal and input some code and wait for information to pop out. If it comes back with a message saying nothing is found, you€™re probably safe. But if the Terminal spits out some other data, you might be infected.

2. Apple is working on a fix

Apple said in a support forum posting recently that it€™s working on a fix for the Flashback Trojan that might make it quite simple to remove it. There are other methods of removing Flashback, but few quick fixes are available. So those who are less tech-savvy might want to beware. Hopefully, Apple€™s quick fix will launch sooner rather than later.

3. Patches are available

Apple has released two patches now that address the Flashback Trojan. The latest patch came down recently and can be found when accessing Software Update. However, as you€™ll see in a subsequent item in this list, the malware creators are already trying to find ways around the patches and continue to exploit users.

4. It€™s a Java issue

It€™s important to keep in mind that Flashback is not something that exploits Mac OS X on its own. Instead, the vulnerability comes by way of Java and has at least been patched by both Adobe and Apple. Still, it€™s clear that Adobe must do more to protect users who might have downloaded its many software packages.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...