Apple releases malware detection tool

April 13, 2012

Apple released an update Thursday to detect a piece of malware after letting users know that it would push out the tool earlier in the week.

The program, available for download from Apple’s support pages, will remove most variants of the malware program Flashback, which is believed to have affected around 600,000 computers worldwide. The program infected Macs by exploiting a weakness in Java that Apple had not yet plugged. The new update downloads a new version of Java and disables Java applets from running automatically.

If users want to run Java applets automatically, they can head to the Java Preferences application and re-enable the feature.

Keeping things like Java up-to-date on your computer should offer some protection against bad applications, so don’t put off those updates, no matter how annoying you think they are. The best way to stay on top of updates is to set your Mac to automatically check for updates from Apple.

To check if your computer is doing that, head to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences.” From the Software Update pane, you can set your computer to check for new software daily, weekly or monthly. Most Macs check for updates weekly by default.

Related stories:

Apple works on malware detection, removal tool

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Flashback trojan shows Macs do get viruses

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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