Mac fans everywhere have felt the pain of Windows users recently with a lovely little virus--the Flashback botnet--which affects a vulnerability in Java. It's the second hit in just a few months for Apple lovers, coming after the arrest of Russian cyber-criminal Pavel Vrublevsky, who developed faux anti-virus applications for OS X. Unlike the previous strain of malware--which required the user to download a fake Adobe Flash installer--this version of the Flashback virus is particularly tricky because it can spread infection without the user doing anything in particular and often doesn't show symptoms. A silent enemy is a scary enemy.
But all is not lost, apparently, as there are several things you can do to fix the problem. Ars Technica has helpfully provided a way to check for the virus, which is obviously the first step:
First, launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities on your Mac. Then individually type or paste these three lines into the Terminal:
defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
defaults read /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
If the result looks something like this....
The domain/default pair of (/Users/jacqui/.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist
The domain/default pair of (/Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info, LSEnvironment) does not exist
The domain/default pair of (/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Info, LSEnvironment) does not exist
...then you are good to go. Running a software update is the next step.
If you are infected, the cure is a bit tricky to pull off. You can read more about a fix here, or you can seek help from a specialist if you're a non-techie like me.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and all that jazz, but it's obviously a good idea to back up everything you do lest you end up like Carrie Bradshaw in an infamous episode of "Sex And The City", where she was faced with a "sad Mac" and lost all the work she had saved over the years. It's also not a bad idea to invest in some anti-virus software; Norton makes a good one that won't break your bank.
A rep for the anti-virus protection company Sophos said: “First and foremost Mac users need to be sure they have installed the latest security patches from Apple. Second, Mac users can no longer rely on simply updating their computers. Preventative protection is an essential defense mechanism to detect and thwart future attacks.”
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