Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Flashback malware

I have to face up to the inevitable fact that my MacBook - which, by the way, I use very little nowadays - is now liable to get infected by computer malware if I'm not careful. In particular, the flashback virus has been in the news for several weeks now and users of Apple computers are rushing frantically to get a fix.

Suddenly, Apple users have come to realise that it is not only about flashback but computer viruses in general that can infect their machines. Apple computers are no longer the safe machines once believed.

Apple itself has come out to patch up their most recent operating systems although they were slow, or perhaps reluctant, to respond immediately. As usual, they thought smugly that their operating systems were invincible to attacks. But eventually, they did respond with the patches for their newest OS X operating systems.

Yesterday, I learnt that the company has released an update for their old OS X Leopard. Glad to hear that of course, but nevertheless I'm still disappointed because there was nothing for the OS X Tiger which I'm still using. Tich, I'm way behind in my OS X, aren't I?

Fortunately though, I still hope to be spared from this flashback infection because of a fortuitous decision to instal an anti-virus program on my MacBook. This was done in March 2011 - that's more than a year ago - on the advice of an old school pal who had alerted me from London about the possibility of Apple computers being affected by viruses, not particularly flashback. He had then recommended me using the free Sophos anti-virus program.

I'm still in the process of doing a thorough anti-virus scan of my MacBook's harddisk and at slightly past midnight, it still looks clean. So far, it has been a very slow process, already taken almost two hours and only about 320,000 items on the computer scanned with another 280,000 to go. Whatever, I am rather thankful that I had listened to my old friend. Better be safe than sorry.

Anyhow as an added insurance, I've also disabled Java on both the Firefox and Safari browser programs on the MacBook. Can't be too careful, can I?

UPDATE: Sophos finished scanning my harddisk at about four o'clock in the morning. So it was almost a six-hour job. The program detected three threats which I've now removed from the MacBook. Thankfully, flashback was not among them.

If you are an Apple user, you can download the Sophos Free Antivirus for Mac Home Edition from their website.

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