Public Service Announcement - Mac Flashback Trojan

This is the 3rd post in a series called Public Service Announcements. My goal is to help you be aware of threats in the world of technology.

In the past week, it has been discovered that 600,000 Macs have been infected with the Flashback Trojan. This Trojan is able to install itself on your Mac through a vulnerability in a technology called Java. If you visited a malicious website and you had Java installed and running (most Mac users do) the Flashback Trojan could download and install itself. The Trojan is then able to log usernames and passwords when you visit websites and send them back to the bad guys. Obviously, having someone else get ahold of the passwords for your bank, Facebook, and email account would be pretty bad.

How To Determine If You Are Affected

Dr. Web has released a simple lookup tool that claims to let folks determine if a particular Mac has been detected as a system infected with the Flashback Trojan. Once you have clicked on the above link, follow the instructions and you will be able to determine if your Mac has been affected.

If you are affected, contact me and I can help you get your Mac cleaned up.

How To Prevent Future Threats

Viruses, malware, and spyware are very uncommon on the Mac. The majority of the attacks on the Mac in the past few years have been through 3rd party technologies like Flash and Java. It is very important to make sure that you keep all your software up to date. Software companies routinely update their software when security issues are identified.

Make sure your Mac has the latest software by running Software Update.

Turn off Java in your web browsers. It's a very old technology that is rarely used anymore on the web. This is fairly easy to do.

Safari > Preferences > Security

Firefox > Tools > Add-ons > Plug-ins

In Chrome type about:plugins in the address bar. Scroll down and disable Java.

Make sure you have the lastest version of Flash installed. You can check by visiting Adobe's website. The webpage will show you the version of Flash that you have installed and the most recent version of Flash that is available.

If you are really concerned about viruses and malware on the Mac (I am not) you can install anti-virus software on the Mac. A good free option would be ClamXav. You can download it from the App Store if you are using Snow Leopard 10.6 or Lion 10.7. If you are using an older version of Mac OSX you can visit ClamXav's website to download the appropriate version for your system.

You can set up ClamXav to scan your Mac once a week or however frequently you want.

If you or someone you know needs help getting the most out of technology please contact me.