Security Experts:

Apple Mac OS X Leopard Updates Target Flashback Trojan, Old Flash Player Versions

Apple released security updates Monday targeting Mac OS X 10.5 users in order to nuke both outdated versions of Adobe System's Flash Player as well as the infamous Flashback Trojan.

Using a now-patched Java vulnerability, Flashback built a botnet of more than 550,000 Mac computers. In response to the attacks, Apple released an update to remove Flashback infections on Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) last month. 

“If the Flashback malware is found, it presents a dialog notifying the user that malware was removed,” Apple stated in an advisory announcing the tool’s availability. “There is no indication to the user if malware is not found.”

The removal tool for Mac OS X 10.5, commonly referred to as Leopard, also disables the Java plug-in for the Safari browser. Instructions on how to re-enable it can be found here. 

Apple is also recommending Leopard users apply an update that removes versions of Flash Player older than That version of Flash Player was released by Adobe in November 2010. The update presents the opportunity to install a new version of Flash from the Adobe website. If Adobe Flash Player or older is found, the update moves the files are moved to a new directory, according to Apple.

[Related: Secunia Slams Apple Over Vulnerability Handling, Publicizes Safari Flaws]

“This additional level of protection when it comes to Safari users running Flash is good to see - as Adobe's software is so frequently exploited by malware authors and malicious hackers to infect web surfers,” blogged Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

“It's encouraging to see Apple has not left users of this older version of the Mac OS X operating system completely out in the cold when it comes to protecting against the latest threats,” he added. “Clearly they [realize] that it's not good for the Apple Mac's image if older computers connected to the internet are [harboring] malware that could cause problems for others in the Mac community.”

Brad Arkin, director of product security and privacy at Adobe, opined that the single most important advice the company gives to users is to stay up-to-date, and applauded Apple for pushing the update out to users.

“The vast majority of users who ever encountered a security problem using Adobe products were attacked via a known vulnerability that was patched in more recent versions of the software,” he blogged. “This is why we’ve invested so much in the Adobe Reader/Acrobat update mechanism introduced in 2010, and more recently in the Flash Player background updater delivered in March of this year and used for the first time with last week’s Flash Player security update. Both update mechanisms give Windows users the option to install updates automatically, without user interaction. A Mac version of the Flash Player background updater is currently in beta and will be available very soon—stay tuned.”

[Related: Apple Auto-Disables Outdated Versions of Flash Player In Latest Software Update]

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