Apple Flashback malware remover goes live
Apple has released an integrated tool to remove Flashback, the malware designed to steal user information that was estimated to be present in more than half a million machines just last week.
The tool, which was made available as part of a security update to Java, comes just two days after Apple said it was working on an automated way for users to remove the infection.
Flashback is designed to grab passwords and other information from users through their web browser and other applications. A user typically mistakes it for a legitimate browser plug-in while visiting a malicious website. At that point, the software installs code designed to gather personal information and to send it back to remote servers. In its most recent incarnations, the software can install itself without user interaction.
According to Apple, the new tool removes "the most common variants" of the malware, as well as turning off automatic execution of Java applets on web pages.
After being discovered by Russian antivirus company Dr.Web earlier this month, several security companies — including Kaspersky and Symantec — verified Flashback's prevalence, while noting that infections have been in a decline. Symantec estimated this week that around 270,000 machines are now infected with the malware worldwide, down from an estimate of more than 600,000 counted last week.
Apple's removal tool joins a small number of other solutions created to detect and remove the malware. F-Secure has released a small piece of software that makes use of AppleScript to detect the malware and make any necessary repairs. Earlier this week, Kaspersky Labs, which was the first company to verify Dr.Web's infection numbers, also offered up its own such tool.