Mac OSX, Flashback And The Myth Of The Safe Operating System

When you hear a rumor so many times you really start to believe it. It does not matter how far fetch the rumor is or how ridiculous it may sound, after so many times of hearing it really starts to resonate with you. This is especially true when you hear the same rumor from different sources. You start to think in your mind, how something can be false when so many people are saying the same thing. Popular celebrities are usually the victims from these types of rumors.

But it is not only in the celebrity world where these types of rumors happen. It is in the tech world as well. We have had many myths tech world stated so much that people started to believe that it was true. Even people who should have known better. Well one of the more popular myths was exploded this week when it was found out that the Mac OS X system had been compromised by an attack.

flashback trojan

The Flashback Trojan

There was a Trojan attack that attacked the Mac Os X called Flashback. The Flashback Trojan has been around for awhile now and it originally started off as an attack on the Flash runtime. Hence the name Flashback. But now it has mutated into something different. Some people think that it isn’t even a Trojan anymore and now it is just a straight up virus. The mutation came because it does not attach itself to flash vulnerabilities anymore. Instead it attaches itself to a known hole in the Java runtime. Java is a programming language and runtime that allows you to use certain applications on your computer. You might see it in use when you run the Eclipse IDE or several more different applications that are out there. A different flavor of the Java programming language is used on the Android based phones that are out on the market right now. This exploit does not affect them.

So this exploit attach itself to the hole in the Java runtime and spread to what has been reported to be over 600,000 Macs and the number is still climbing. While when installed in the machine it does not do much damage but it does turn the machine into zombie for a larger botnet. A botnet is a group of computers that work together to commit crimes over the internet. The computers are controlled remotely by someone else. So while the computer may seem like it is fine, in reality it is now controlled by someone else and they have the ability to be able to get in and out of your system whenever they want to.

Heads in the sand

The word is now out and people are starting to protect themselves against this bug. But the problem lies in the fact that people who use OS X and the other line of Apple products did not believe that they could become infected. They always sort of saw that as a Windows user problem. But now the problem has come to their machines and they do not know how to protect themselves.

When you believe that your machine is invulnerable then you start to get lazy when it comes to the rules of safe computing. Why should you keep up with those rules when you believe that nothing can happen to you? You should keep up with it because the Mac Os X was never as safe as it seemed. There have been known holes and exploits before; this is just one of the few which have been turned to weapon for that system. And there are several reasons for that.

In the past Apple computers were harder to run an exploit on than Windows based computers. But that is not the truth anymore. In Windows you have to give permission for an application to install on your system. Just like the other operating systems on the market. So it is much harder for the bad guys to run an exploit without human help. But they still can if they try hard enough and they can on the other popular operating systems as well. When it comes to security, all of the popular operating systems are on the same level now. And with the rise in popularity of the Apple brand, people who use their products should be ready to start to see an increase in malware that is focused on them. There is money to be made in going after Mac computers and the bad guys now know it.

When it comes to you running an operating system, do not believe any myths about it when it comes to security. You want to be able to protect yourself at all times so always practice safe computing. The bad guys are after everyone these days so always assume that you are a target.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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