Mac trojan affects at least 600,000 systems

Macs aren’t vulnerable to all of those pesky Windows viruses; so goes popular wisdom. That’s true, of course, but the latest epidemic shows Mac users definitely aren’t immune from malware altogether. Ars Technica reports that at least 600,000 Macs are in the throes of a nasty Java trojan infestation.

Russian security firm Dr Web first broke the news yesterday, revealing some details about the trojan. It explained, "Systems get infected with BackDoor.Flashback.39 after a user is redirected to a bogus site from a compromised resource or via a traffic distribution system. JavaScript code is used to load a Java-applet containing an exploit." An epidemiology map put together by the firm shows most affected systems are in the English-speaking world, with the United States and Canada commanding the lion’s share of cases.

Mac users aren’t helpless, thankfully. Ars points out that Apple has sent out a fix through Software Update, its automatic system updates scheme. Also, security firm F-secure offers instructions so that Mac users can check if they’re infected—and get rid of the trojan if they are.

Still, this is a sobering reminder that, ad campaigns and slogans aside, OS X users aren’t getting a free ride as far as malware is concerned.

Comments closed
    • link626
    • 8 years ago

    nooooooo !

    macs are invincible

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Malware affects every platform that is wired to the internet. *nix and OSX ecology are no exception.

      • PenGun
      • 8 years ago

      This is my 5th Linux machine. I have blowed up windose from malware on several occasions during this time, my games you understand, but nothing has ever happened to my main OS in 15 years. Nothin’, nada … zip.

        • EtherealN
        • 8 years ago

        And? I smell an anecdote, and you know what they say about anecdotal “evidence”… 😉

        Linux is even smaller than OSX, so of course there’s less malware written for it. 😛
        (Not knocking it – I like Linux myself, I’ve used SuSE, Debian and Ubuntu in my days, as well as a couple micro-distros as rescue livediscs to repair machines for friends and family.)

        But if you think there’s nothing out there prowling you are a prime target for malware writers. It’s people that think their systems are secure simply through the label on their OS that are easiest to explot since they don’t take the same defensive measures someone that is on their guard takes.

          • PenGun
          • 8 years ago

          LOL. I have also been root for all this time. I have fooled with the consumer distros but I always come back to my Slack. Since 3.2 actually.

          I have fought wars on my Linux web servers but that was long ago. We did have fun though. Best outcome … we trade user accounts, hold your enemies close …

          So this + – thing is some kind of popularity contest right? I have paid little attention to it.

            • EtherealN
            • 8 years ago

            Aye, it seems to be a general measure to see how well your opinion aligns with everyone else’s opinion (as opposed to whether you’re being mannered). A bit of a silly system imo.

        • Krogoth
        • 8 years ago

        Malware does exist in the *nix ecology. The only difference is that their primary targets are enterprise systems (majority of *nix marketshare). Mainstream *nix systems are too far and few for malware writers to go bother with.

    • entropy13
    • 8 years ago

    Another attempt to sully the clean name of the Holy Apple!

    Such propaganda from heretics will not go unpunished!

    • LaChupacabra
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]the United States and Canada commanding the lion's share of cases.[/quote<] I see what you did there

    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    “It just infects!”

    • demani
    • 8 years ago

    Of course this was inevitable, but the smug comments from most of the posters seem to ignore that Windows users have gotten hammered in the last few years (the 700k number isn’t even close to the size of some of the botnets that are out there, including the few that [i<]Microsoft themselves[/i<] helped take down. I mean it's not like Windows XP isn't still on more machines, and its going to fall further and further behind security wise. Would you call those user smug, self satisfied users who didn't take the "sucker's bet" and pay Microsoft for upgrades when what they have is working fine? (Note-I'm all over Windows 7 myself, but I don't keep a VM for some specific software that won't run even in 7's XP Mode). How about instead of being dicks about it, let your Mac using friends know that this is an issue, and tell them to get patched? If you think your better than Mac users, go ahead and prove it by [i<]actually being helpful and doing something about it[/i<]. But if you want to be a smug SOB, go right ahead-but know that just makes you a hypocrite on top of everything else.

      • mesyn191
      • 8 years ago

      Its not about being a “smug SOB” its about enjoying the delicious succulent schadenfreude after years of listening to the suckers who had fallen for Jobs’ RDF ~smugly~ go on about Apple’s immunity to viruses get their just deserts.

      I’ve been telling those fools for years they need to get AV and use some common sense security practices in place for when Apple’s machines and OS get popular enough to become a worthy target to the hackers. Not my fault they didn’t listen.

      • xeridea
      • 8 years ago

      Apple wants you to pay $30 every 6 months for small updates when you already bought an extremely overpriced machine to start with. Whats wrong with upgrading your OS every 10 year for $90?

        • demani
        • 8 years ago

        See, that’s the attitude I was talking about. You are as sensationalistic as any of the Apple users you want to slam, but you are just as wrong. Apple has hit up for $30 every 12 months, not 6 months. And you are right, windows was just a 90$ upgrade, but it wasn’t 10 years between releases either. And yes, Microsoft wants you to keep paying just as much as Apple does (Software Assurance anyone?).

        Still doesn’t change that way more people were affected by Rustock (which was one of several botnets).

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          there is no question that there are more virus’ or infected windows machines. But nobody makes stupid commercials for windows pretending windows doesn’t have virus’. that’s the difference. apple encourages this invincible belief, meanwhile suggesting AV on webpages nobody will ever go to so they can say “No! we encourage users to have AV!!!!”. it’s a sleazy move.

    • atryus28
    • 8 years ago

    I’m more than happy with the windows defectors going to Apple. I will not miss them in the least and I can charge them twice as much to fix their Macs. 🙂

    • Sargent Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Hahahahahahahaha

    I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh at other people’s misfortunes…*snicker*….Hahahahahahahahahahaha

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Let the apple bashing begin!

      • Grigory
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed, it’s well earned. 🙂

    • corwin155
    • 8 years ago

    wait apple says they dont get viruses ?

      • TEAMSWITCHER
      • 8 years ago

      Umm….this was a Trojan…next time just say “malware.”

      I am beginning to question the numbers involved. I have checked every Mac in my extended family and they were all clean. That 56% number for the united states looks like errant data. No other country has anywhere near the same percentage. I think this is BS.

        • brute
        • 8 years ago

        It’s BS that 56.6% of infected computers reside in the US? Is it also BS that the sum of the %s reported is 100?

        Statistics be hard, yo

          • walruslove
          • 8 years ago

          I know right? Also if you take into account # of computers per country and mac market share per country I assume why the US number is so high would be more obvious.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Repeat after me:

        [RDF]Fake news! Macs are pure and good, and immune to anything evil I call BS![/RDF]

    • Da_Boss
    • 8 years ago

    To be clear (and probably fair), this malware vulnerability was addressed by Apple in a software update. So, this really reads to me like nothing more than a case of malware do what it always does–attacking the most helpless and least knowledgable of computer users.

    I’m sure we all know our fair share of ignorant tech users, regardless of platform. So, I’m not sure if this gives anyone permission to start calling Mac users idiots or Apple a liar for pointing out that widespread virus and malware attacks just aren’t as prevalent on Mac OS X. If Apple could be charged with anything, It’d probably be that they do take some credit for an apparent lack of interest in malware writers wanting to exploit Mac OS X.

      • jpostel
      • 8 years ago

      The knock on Apple is that the particular vulnerability was in Java and was patched by Oracle in February, yet Apple did not release their update until the exploit was in the wild and several hundred thousand users were affected.

      Now I am going to make sure my systems are patched and ClamXav is updated.

        • pedro
        • 8 years ago

        Why do n00b users even have Java installed in the first place?

          • pedro
          • 8 years ago

          This is a serious question.

            • ermo
            • 8 years ago

            Many banks use Java for their back-end banking software.

            If we assume that many users rely on online banking, it should therefore come as no surprise that most online banking portals rely on Java applets and that, hence, users need a Java Runtime Environment if they want access.

            • pedro
            • 8 years ago

            OK, I didn’t know that. Cheers. The only thing I could come up with was OpenOffice.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            That is far more likely. Banks may use Java (programming environment) for their software, but it is not a requirement to have it for clients (runtime). At this point it’s a liability, as the JRE has had more holes than any other plug-in over the past few years.

            I need it installed at work for government connection requirements, and it’s a freakin’ joke. The government mandates what version we use, and often it is an outdated, insecure version. I end up only whitelisting the government sites to allow JRE approved applets.

    • no51
    • 8 years ago

    I know iTunes is terrible, but calling it a trojan is just too far.

      • Spotpuff
      • 8 years ago

      [url<]http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/i-see-what-you-did-there.png[/url<]

      • cygnus1
      • 8 years ago

      ha ha, good show

    • danny e.
    • 8 years ago

    I’m immune to black on black violence.

      • danny e.
      • 8 years ago

      not so with white on white violence, or black on white, or brown on white. drat.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        -1’d because I don’t know what kind of pseudo-political joke you’re trying to make, but it’s not funny.

          • ish718
          • 8 years ago

          I guess it is a poor attempt for an analogy.

            • danny e.
            • 8 years ago

            If by “poor” you mean “perfect”. 🙂

          • danny e.
          • 8 years ago

          nothing political.

            • brute
            • 8 years ago

            The analogy is good, but you’ve got to keep in mind that many people come to the internet, and some of them are liberal! The slightest not-PC statement can have their butthurts flare up.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            No it’s a stupid analogy. Unless it’s impossible to create malware on a Mac.

            • danny e.
            • 8 years ago

            you’re dense.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    A lot of Apple users particularly those who aren’t even into computers at all (just using the things for their work or play) would probably even be oblivious to this, just as any Windows user who doesn’t give the slightest damn about the inner workings of a PC is oblivious to PC viruses. Any TR gerbil would object, but I’ve seen too many people who just don’t even know what a computer virus is, or care about it. Heck, some people even claim their USB drives to be free of viruses because they’ve had it for only a few days!

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      Heck even people with PC knowledge. Today i got a flash pen drive from a friend to put a few CAD files on it and out of habbit i fired up a Kaspersky scan without expecting it to find anything, but to my surprise BAM “Virus.Win32.Sality.bh” was detected on the drive.

      After i saw the infection i asked him if he has an antivirus installed on his computer, to which he replied “Nah man i don’t need one. I only frequent secure sites”. Well the sites might be secure but his thumb drive does gets around.

      “W32.Sality is an entry-point obscuring (EPO) polymorphic file infector. It will infect executable files on local, removable and remote shared drives. The virus also creates a peer-to-peer (P2P) botnet and receives URLs of additional files to download. It then attempts to disable security software. ”

      Read more here:
      [url<]http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2006-011714-3948-99[/url<] So clearly there is no substitute for cautious users that periodically scan their PC and use reliable AV solutions. Far from me to defend MACs (they use silly OS and absurd hardware limitations) but frankly it's up to the user to keep their data safe, as much as a home user can ofc. As a home user i can't stop a new virus that even the AV can't detect, let alone desinfect.

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    [RDF]Fake news. This didn’t happen. OS X is immune to all malware.[/RDF]

      • Unknown-Error
      • 8 years ago

      RDF?

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Reality Distortion Field is a decade old term applied to Mac users and Apple lovers. I believe it originated in the times when Macs had vastly lower performing CPUs compared to PCs (i.e., before Apple started using Intel processors) and yet you’d always find the Apple faithful digging up very specific benchmarks where the Power PC processor would manage to win and then they would broadly proclaim that Macs were faster than PCs based upon that. Dunno, but the general idea of the RDF is that Apple can do no wrong and that whatever Apple does is better than the analogous situation in PC land.

          • Unknown-Error
          • 8 years ago

          Ah I see. Thanx for that. I’ve never owned anything from Apple and never had any interest in their products. So hope you guys can forgive my Ignorance on Apple terms.

          • entropy13
          • 8 years ago

          It’s what heretics and non-believers call “Reality Distortion Field” when it is actually simply “True Enlightenment.”

            • Saribro
            • 8 years ago

            The RDF is indeed a meta-field.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      I would say that Apple should sue TR for these false news! TR is clearly reporting it wrong!
      Apple has a patent for proper reporting of news related with Apple and this clearly violates it.

        • entropy13
        • 8 years ago

        Tech Report (and other supposed “tech news websites”) should get ready with their lawyers. Such rampant spreading of propaganda, intentional defamation of the Holy Apple will not go unpunished.

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    I am sure we will see this more and more often as the obscurity part of mac security fades away.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, I think it may have been the RDF that was protecting Mac users from stuff like this. Now that Steve’s gone, RDF virus/malware definition updates are suspended, so this was bound to happen.

        • 5150
        • 8 years ago

        <ADAMDEVINE>
        I like that!
        </ADAMDEVINE>

        • Silus
        • 8 years ago

        No, they are not suspended at all. RDFs are in full effect, only lessened, since Jobs (the king of RDF and false advertizing) can no longer do them himself.

      • xeridea
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah you would think Apple would take part of that $100 Billion saved up and fix some security issues, but they don’t care about their users enough to stand up to their marketing hype. Not pushing patches that have been available for months, telling techs to ignore users with malware etc.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    There’s just no substitute for smart users.

      • DancinJack
      • 8 years ago

      ++++++

      It’s not about Apple products, it’s about people being dumb with Apple products.

        • 5150
        • 8 years ago

        Are you sure? Because Apple has always claimed that it was their products, not users.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          What’s said rarely changes what’s true.

            • 5150
            • 8 years ago

            What is understood need not be discussed.

            • Yeats
            • 8 years ago

            You’re 2 for 2… you got a hat trick for us?

          • axeman
          • 8 years ago

          it must be the users.
          the apple products, they just work.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            They do. Just like Windows products or Android products. But if a user gets fooled into downloading something…well, I”ll just point you back to my initial comment.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 8 years ago

            They must be holding it wrong.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 8 years ago

        I find humor in that statement, since Apple dumbs down their products (some times good, some times bad) and their users claim to be smarter.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          There are plenty of dumb people using other platforms as well. I think the dumbness is pretty evenly spread on a per capita basis, TBH.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 8 years ago

            I agree. My point is that users of other platforms don’t usually hold themselves in a superior view because the product they use.

            Well, Linux users might be smarter. But where they have the brains in computers and code they make up for it in a lack of social skills… not like I would know that from experience or people like that or anything >_>.

            OK, I concur, we are all equally stupid, just not all in the same way!

        • Washer
        • 8 years ago

        Is it surprising though when it comes to security? They’ve been fed marketing for years saying they’re basically immune to these types of issues. I’ve always felt Apple’s marketing strategy in that regard was like playing with fire. As OSX becomes a more popular target the need to educate users of these risks will increase as well. Apple has been doing the opposite that for ages, they’ve made their users lazy when it comes to safe computing.

      • DragonDaddyBear
      • 8 years ago

      Of note, I think it was 274 (or something close to that) are in Cupertino. Mmmm, irony.

      Perhaps this malware was preemptive karma? I also read an article this week on iPhone user’s opinions of Android getting instagram and insulting the pictures that Andoid users are going to take and how lame they were going to be.

      Why can’t we all just get along?

      • trackerben
      • 8 years ago

      Which may explain a lot. The not-smarts are running things.
      [url<]http://macdailynews.com/2011/09/04/apple-macbooks-iphones-ipads-invade-white-house-surround-obama%E2%80%99s-blackberry-and-dell-pc/[/url<]

      • Spotpuff
      • 8 years ago

      BY definition apple users are smart because they bought the machine that “just works” and isn’t affected by all those pesky windows viruses.

      • entropy13
      • 8 years ago

      Exactly. And only the truly believers can be considered such, having undergone real enlightenment from the Holy Apple. The report’s findings are just lies from heretics. Those that are unenlightened.

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    Apple deserves this.

      • albundy
      • 8 years ago

      but the users dont.

        • EtherealN
        • 8 years ago

        The ones who said their apple computers are immune, and for this reason did not employ security measures, do deserve it. The same kind of wake-up call as when some fruit decides they don’t need AV and updates on their windows machine.

        Johnny Ordinary that doesn’t know anything about computers and just bought a nice one to facebook on, though, does of course not deserve to get hit. But at least this one might shock a few of these into action towards getting their systems secured. (I’ve seen this news item pop up in mainstream media outlets too, so at least this might serve the purpose of reminding non-geeks to take steps to keep their systems secure; and to question the sales clerk next time the idiot behind the counter says the Apple machines are not vulnerable – I’ve had sales clerks tell me that to my face, though they get strangely evasive when I start asking questions about that… 😀 )

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 8 years ago

    Are Macs super popular in Australia or what’s going on there?

      • tay
      • 8 years ago

      From TFA: [quote<]An epidemiology map put together by the firm shows most affected systems are in the English-speaking world[/quote<]

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