Flashback infecting 10 percent of Macs

People with Macs may have thought they were immune from the stress and hassle of doing a restart and restore, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. For years, Mac users were particularly cocky about how their computers were virus and malware free (at least, PC users might have thought that – remember those commercials with Justin Long?), but it seems the recent Flashback malware is taking them down a peg. Kindsight Security Labs said in its second quarter report that this malware is infecting 10 percent of Macs. Not only that, but Android malware is up 300 percent since the previous report, and Apple is facing some other issues as well.
“First Flashback infected the Mac and now it appears that an iPhone app called ‘Find and Call’ uploads the user’s contact list to a remote server,” the researchers said. “The server then sends e-mail and text-message spam to the victim’s contacts. The messages are in Russian and encourage the recipient to download the app.”
Not only is Apple seeing the bad end of the internet right now, but 14 percent of home networks were infected with some kind of malware over the second quarter of 2012, which was an increase of 13 percent from the first quarter. This makes it clear that some form of layered security is needed among those who surf the internet, even on phones. When it comes to phones, Android malware is up 300 percent over the last past three months, something that should inspire Android users to be cautious about how they use their phone for banking and storage of sensitive information, among other things.

Another big concern of the Kindsight research was the p2p ZeroAccess botnet, which now has affected about 1.2 million computers across the world. This piece of malicious software results in ad-click fraud that can consume an insanely large amount of bandwidth, equaling about 45 full length movies per subscriber.
“In recent months, we’ve seen the ZeroAccess botnet update its command and control protocol and grow to infect more computers while connecting to over 1 million computers globally,” Kevin McNamee, Kindsight Security Labs security architect and director, said. “The concern with ZeroAccess is that it is using the subscriber’s bandwidth maliciously which will cost them money as they exceed bandwidth caps. And, once the computer is compromised, it can also spread additional malware or launch new attacks.”
For Apple users who had their attention grabbed by the Flashback malware, Apple quickly followed up the negative piece of code with its own Malware Removal Tool package, according to CNET.
“Unlike other offerings, this tool is built to run once, remove instances of known malware, and then remove itself. This approach is minimalistic, but will allow users to do a one-time check of their system to ensure they are free of the Flashback malware,” the news source said.

Whether or not Macs are safe is still up for debate among users and professionals. HowToGeek.com said the Mac is a relatively safe platform for now, but that doesn’t mean it will always stay that way.

“Here’s what seems inevitable: more and more people will begin to use personal computers of any variety, be they Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux,” the website said. “While the Windows market is likely to grow faster in a world where more and more people are starting to use the internet, in a world where even more people are using computers, even more people should be using Macs. Will we begin to see niche profit-driven viruses? It seems very plausible – security through minority will probably not work forever.”
Mac owners, how do you feel about the security of your device? Do you think it’s still relatively safe when compared with Windows-based devices? Are you worried about having to block applications instead of download them now? Let us know in the comment section!

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.