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Apple works on malware detection, removal tool

Apple acknowledged Tuesday that a flaw in Oracle’s Java software has left Macs open to the Flashback botnet.

In a page on the company’s Knowledge Base Web site, Apple said that it is working on a tool to recognize and remove the malware. The company has already released an updated version of Java that plugs the hole, but had yet to release an easy way for the average computer user to find out if they had been already affected by the botnet.

Apple is also working on the larger problem, it said.

“In addition to the Java vulnerability, the Flashback malware relies on computer servers hosted by the malware authors to perform many of its critical functions,” the company said. “Apple is working with ISPs worldwide to disable this command and control network.”

The Flashback trojan is estimated to have affected around 600,000 computers, and can serve as a reminder to Mac users that their machines aren’t impenetrable. While Macs have enjoyed the reputation of being far less open to viruses than PCs, as Apple’s market share has grown, some hackers have started to take notice.

While Macs are still at a smaller risk of getting a virus, security is one of those things that you don’t know you’re missing until it’s gone. With that in mind, it’s never a bad idea for any computer user to take some steps to avoid sketchy Web sites and consider getting some anti-virus software.

Related stories:

Apple market value hits $600 billion, closing in on Microsoft record

Report: Apple testing new iPhone with 1GB of RAM

Flashback trojan shows Macs do get viruses

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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