A report earlier today said that over 600,000 Macs worldwide had been infected with a Flashback trojan. The computer virus disguises itself as Adobe's Flash software, and once installed seeks out passwords and user names stored on your computer.
Embarrassingly, over 200 of the infections are reported to be active in Cupertino, the city Apple operates out of. It is difficult to imagine that no one's computer in the city of the tech giant got infected.
The folks over at Mashable.com have created a simple program you can use to check if your computer is infected. The software consists of two separate scripts, that simply check the areas of your hard drive where the virus is most likely to have been installed, and checks if it is present on the system.
If there is nothing there, the check will tell you that the file does not exist. If it does in fact return a valid answer you'll need to follow the instructions over at Mashable to remove the files and make your computer is safe. This check will only detect the Flashback Trojan and is useless against other malware on your Mac.
Beside Mashable, a Security firm F-secure, has also posted a step-by-step guide on its website for tracking down the infected files on your Mac.
Mac users have often reported a lower incidence of virus infiltration, and that has often been touted as an advantage in getting an Apple computer. The most likely cause for the lower incidence of malware has less to do with any design incorporated into a Mac's hardware or software, and more to do with the low number of the computers being bought and used.
Since the range was revitalized and its popularity has grown more and more, designers of malware and other harmful software have been turning to Macs as a target for their nasty programs. Apple users will no longer be able to rest safely under the assumption that their computers are safe and will have to begin to be more vigilant with their computer use.
Apple has made moves to remedy the malware problems in the latest version of OSX. Many see it as an overkill measure, but now if a user chooses to install something from a source other than the Mac app store there will be a message warning users about malware and recommending they only use the App store for their application needs.
Whether this is a sincere attempt on the part of Apple's OSX team to sidestep the malware problem or a more cynical attempt to make sure Apple gets a cut of all application sales as it does with the iPhone is objective and up to you to decide. The move does demonstrate awareness of the problem at Cupertino and a willingness to address the problem in some way. Malware is a problem which has not gone away for PC users since the first bugs were created, and probably won't go away for Mac users now, notwithstanding a change of strategy of unprecedented levels at the tech giant.