There’s a piece of Mac malware, known as ‘Flashback’, that’s going around and takes advantage of a Java vulnerability in order to compromise and infect Macs online. Although the vulnerability isn’t Mac-specific, and was patched back in February, Apple has yet to distribute that update to everyone via Software Update, leaving everyone vulnerable.
Apparently the team behind this malware is quite efficient at updating it, and so they have been successful in spreading it around. Lion doesn’t come with Java by default, so unless you’ve manually installed it, you’re safe. If you have installed Java on Lion however, I don’t know yet whether Lion’s built-in anti-malware is being updated quickly enough to keep up with the new malware variants (although I highly doubt it).
If you are running Snow Leopard (or earlier), or Lion with a manually-installed Java, then the best thing to do is disable it. The majority of web users do not need Java on a regular basis. I recommend disabling Java system-wide by going to Applications > Utilities > Java Preferences and then unchecking all the checkboxes in the General tab. If you use Safari to browse, you can disable Java by going to Safari > Preferences > Security and unchecking ‘Enable Java‘.
Keep an eye out for an upcoming Java update from Apple.
[Updated] Seems all the talk about this has nudged Apple to act! They’ve released Java for OS X Lion 2012-001 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7. F-Secure have released a free Flashback remover tool, and Apple have announced they are also working on software to detect and remove Flashback malware.
I wasn’t going to post about last week’s fairly significant iTunes update, but then Apple went and patched a whole bunch of vulnerabilities across the board. Some of these are fairly significant so I thought I would provide a short breakdown of the changes. Either way, you should definitely be patching all of your Apple devices and software tonight.
Hit the jump for a summary of the key vulnerabilities patched in Apple’s security updates.
Apple has released 10.6.7 and its first security patch of the year, 2011-001, fixing a large number of bugs and vulnerabilities. In particular it fixes a known graphics bug in the 2011 MacBook Pros. It also improves Back To My Mac connectivity and SMB (windows file sharing). From a security perspective it fixes issues in a number of components including the Kernel, Airport, ImageIO, and QuickTime, many of which potentially lead to remote code execution. This update also adds detection for the OSX.OpinionSpy spyware to Mac OS X’s built-in file quarantine.
It’s a fairly big update, so users are naturally advised to patch soon. Hit the jump for the full list of security issues fixed. Read more
Apple has released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 4 and Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 9, patching a number of vulnerabilities in the Java virtual machine. The most serious of these may allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside of the Java sandbox. Users with Java installed should update soon. Those of you who don’t have Java don’t need to worry. If you’re unsure, just check Software Update.
Apple recently announced that the version of Java ported by Apple for Mac OS X has been deprecated. Starting in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, the Java runtime will no longer be installed by default, instead requiring users to install Oracle’s Java runtime should they require Java support. Apple also recently stopped bundling Flash with Mac OS X by default, with new MacBook Air and MacBook Pros shipping without Flash. The divesting of these two products will not only eliminate Java and Flash vulnerabilities on default installs of Mac OS X, it will allow users who install these apps to get updates quicker directly from Oracle and Adobe, instead of having to wait for Apple to release software updates.
Hit the jump for details of the Java update for 10.6.
I’ve finally re-written my article on Securing Leopard, with some updates to reflect the changes made in 10.6. This is still an early edition, and I’d be happy to hear feedback/suggestions (contact form) on how I could improve it.
The article is aimed at new and developing Mac OS X users, and covers a variety of suggestions on how to quickly and easily improve the security of your (Snow) Leopard install. It also provides tips on how to manage your privacy and protect your personal information.
It includes a quick checklist which can help when trying to secure an install of Mac OS X. Enjoy!