About two weeks ago, something shocking happened. Apple’s OS X, which has long been thought of as nearly impervious to malware or viruses, was hit with a big, nasty piece of malicious software called Flashback.
The Trojan horse — that’s what these kinds of viruses are called — takes advantage of a vulnerability in Java (a component of the operating system), and then insinuates itself in a system. After the software is inside a Mac, it will gather user names, passwords and other sensitive information from the browser and send that information to command-and-control servers. That’s where the people who got the virus onto your computer in the first place can take advantage of it.
As of last week, a reported 600,000 computers were infected with the malware (which is only about 1 percent of the total user base), though security software companies and Apple itself have moved quickly to plug the hole as well as get the offending software eradicated from your system. In fact, recent numbers show that the amount of infected machines is dropping dramatically thanks to a speedy address of the problem.
But it shows one thing — even Apple isn’t immune from attacks, and the more popular the brand becomes, the more consumers will have to worry about infected Macs.
Elsewhere in the world, Android is dealing with its own security issues. This week, security software kingpin Symantec identified and aided Google in removing 29 pieces of software from the Google Play app store that were found to be malicious in some way. And those are just the ones they found this week. Earlier reports have made clear that Android phones are particularly open to malware, spoofed apps or otherwise untoward software thanks to Google’s “open” policy about what makes it into its marketplace.