Saturday, July 12, 2014

Users finding out there are worms in their Apples after all tech talk Nick DeLorenzo

February 16. 2013 8:04AM

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Hubris can be a terrible thing, as Mac owners are learning. After decades of mocking PC users about viruses and malware, and years of suing anyone that produced any product an Apple employee had ever happened to imagine, not only does Apple find itself the target of a federal antitrust lawsuit, Mac users are beginning to find that, when it comes to viruses and malware they're not as safe as they thought.

Let's take a look at the malware first.

It's called Flashback (or Flashfake), and it's what's known as a Trojan Horse — it hides out on your computer, masquerading as something innocuous as it makes your computer perform diabolical deeds behind your back.

Flashback infected several hundred thousand Macs, which linked together to form a "botnet" — a group of computers infected with viruses and controlled from a remote location.

Flashback entered the infected computers through a vulnerability in Java, a software installed on many computers that allows them to execute code written in that programming language.

Oracle, the company that develops and maintains Java, was aware of the problem in February, but Apple didn't fix it until it became apparent that many computers had become affected.

This isn't the first time that Macs have become infected with malicious software, and as more people use them, the trend is likely to continue.

In the antitrust action, the federal government is suing Apple and other publishers, claiming they conspired to "fix" the prices of books offered in Apple's online e-book store.

Apple denies the allegations, and says it reached agreements that would promote competition against Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble.

You can accuse Microsoft or Google of being heartless mega-corporations all you want, but they've never been anywhere near as controlling of software or customer sales as Apple — a philosophy that seems to be directly at odds with the values of Apple's traditional target audience.

Apple has been wildly successful in today's wobbly economy. The price of that success can be measured in — you guessed it — malware attacks and anti-trust suits.

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