With little fanfare, and no attention brought to the announcement itself, Apple has said it is working on software that will detect and remove the Flashback malware from infected systems. Unfortunately, the company did not say when this software would be released.
As things stand, assuming that the current options for detecting and removing the infection are working, it’s safe to say that 400-500,000 of the initial 650,000 systems infected by Flashback are still compromised – and that’s being generous. Reports have the infection count hitting a low of just over 250,000, but those were weekend numbers. Not everyone uses his or her computer 24-7, so the actual count is hard to grasp.
No matter the count, the fact remains that Flashback is something that came out of the blue and left many Mac users exposed. There are options however for addressing the problem. The latest is a tool promised by Apple.
“Apple is developing software that will detect and remove the Flashback malware. 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. Apple is working with ISPs worldwide to disable this command and control network,” Apple said in a support note.
Apple did not say when the tool will be released, and the patch for the Java vulnerability itself doesn’t apply to users of OS X 10.5. Also, it’s important to note that patching Java does not help if the system was already infected and it will not prevent Flashback from attacking via other means. In addition to Apple’s tool, Kaspersky Labs has created a web site for Mac users to see if their system is infected. They’ve also released a removal tool.
Moreover, one of the oldest Macintosh AV vendors, Intego, has said that their software will detect and remove all Flashback variants from an infected system. The problem for some is that Intego’s offering is Trialware, so it’s not really free.
If that’s the case, Sophos has free AV software for OS X that will also detect and remove Flashback.