Feeds

Apple finally deploys Mac Flashback Trojan terminator

Zombie OS X bot army drops to 270,000 strong

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Apple has released a tool that removes the infamous Flashback Trojan from infected Macs.

The utility, billed as a Java security update, also disables Java applets by default - but only on machines running OS X Lion, the latest version. The update turns off Java applet execution by default for all browsers, not just Safari.

Users can re-enable this if necessary, perhaps to use an online banking site that mandates Java, but the functionality is disabled again automatically in the absence of applet use within 35 days, as Apple's security bulletin for Lion explains:

This Java security update removes the most common variants of the Flashback malware.

This update also configures the Java web plug-in to disable the automatic execution of Java applets. Users may re-enable automatic execution of Java applets using the Java Preferences application.

If the Java web plug-in detects that no applets have been run for an extended period of time it will again disable Java applets.

Java for OS X Lion 2012-003 delivers Java SE 6 version 1.6.0_31 and supersedes all previous versions of Java for OS X Lion.

This update is recommended for all Mac users with Java installed

The picture is different for Mac users running Snow Leopard, where disabling Java in your browser won't happen automatically, as explained in a blog post by Paul Ducklin of Sophos here. The update for Snow Leopard does include Flashback Trojan removal, as explained in Apple's bulletin here.

Both the OS X Lion and Snow Leopard updates, released on Thursday, come with a patched version of Java that was made available in a separate set of updates earlier this week.

Apple has made good on its promise earlier this week to release a Flashback removal tool but the move came after several security firms independently released their own Flashback detection and removal tools (a list of free utilities is here).

The Flashback Trojan created a zombie army of remote-controllable 650,000 Apple Macs, or more, by exploiting a Java security vulnerability that Apple only patched last week, six weeks after a patch for Windows machines became available.

The Flashback Trojan has declined over recent days from a peak of around 670,000 machines to around 270,000 bots (Symantec's latest estimate) or lower. Despite the decline the zombie network remains an undead menace. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.