April 6, 2012

Apple And The Flashback Trojan



The wires (ok - my wires) were all a flutter today over the fact that Apple computers were under threat from a major security virus

Before I get on and explain my take, let me be upfront - I think this is one more in a stupid frenzy of ‘news’ being pushed by the ‘nay sayers’ - akin to the ‘burning ipad 3s’, ‘antenagate’, the working conditons in China etc etc.

Now, I am not saying that this isn’t right and I do not want to minimize the problems of viruses - and absolutely believe that Apple users should be just as careful about monitoring their machines as PC users. Of course they should - but when national morning news is talking about it - well - I have to say - I ‘sit up’ - but then after listing for a minute I sit down again - what a bunch of malarky.

First - things as complicated as viruses and trojans and malware just can’t be explained to most people - period - let alone in early morning news sound bites - and certainly not before I’ve had my coffee !

Now - of course, I also sat up over burning iPads and Chinese working conditions - and then sat down hours later (iPads) - and months later (Working conditions) - but this one - hardly out of my seat before I was back down again.

My take ? This is a story in search of a problem.

I wrote this short piece after receiving an email where PCMag [ you know THE go to experts about all things Apple) (Check out this if you don’t believe me) ], were chosen as the source of information relating to the problem. They highlighted and built up the case and the problem - but no fix explained. Why ? It is so easy. You provide a link - like this one ! (now how hard is that ?) Instead they chose to serve up a massive dose of paranoia.

I wrote this 8 hours ago - essentially providing info as to how to find out if you are compromised - and then - go download the software update - and yes - they should have made it available it earlier - but they didn’t - make THAT the story. Instead the focus was on a problem - be scared - be worried. The bogey man is coming to get you.

In that piece I put the numbers into perspective.

  • First – some data – I have no idea how many Apple computers there are in the world - but only 600,000 of them have been affected.
  • Second - there are estimates of 900 million to 1 billion computers in the world today. So, even if Apple had a 10% of ALL of them (they don’t by a long shot) – that means there are around 100 million Apple computers.
  • Lets say they are between 30 million and 100 million Apples on planet earth.
  • That means there are around 0.5 to 2 percent of ALL Apples estimated to have the virus.

Meanwhile - to offset our friends at PC Magazine - try OSX Daily …. who write :

We haven’t heard of or seen a single case of the Flashback infection on a Mac, but for the sake of optimal security we’re going to cover how to quickly check if a Mac is afflicted by Flashback trojan:


All in all this is nothing to freak out about, but it does serve as another reminder as to why it’s important to update system software as part of a general maintenance routine.

(BTW - I checked three macs and downloaded the software update this morning in less than 15 minutes - including finding the article, reading it and following the instructions - and no -  am not a tech dude - I just read and can follow instructions.)

Oh - and my thanks to BGR - who in the form of Zach Epstein also wrote a very carefully considered and balanced piece on the news - and where this posts image comes from.

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