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Checking Your Mac for Malware

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If you own a Mac, and have Java enabled on your system, then this is for you. The Flashback virus targets the Mac OS, through a vulnerability in Java, turning your computer into a zombie while stealing your personal information. Oracle, who runs Java, has released a patch to prevent such an attack, but because Apple issues their own version of Java, therefore needing to release their own patch, has only done so recently. Figures vary for the total number of infected machines, but seem to be around half a million. So what do you need to do now?

There are a couple of ways of you can go about the situation from here. First, would be to find out if you have the Flashback virus on your system. You can simply go to and enter in your UUID, from there the website will detect if Flashback is showing up in any of your system files. Or you can do it manually, checking for the Flashback virus using the Terminal app. Open up the Terminal application (it’s in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder). Use this line of code in the terminal and hit return:

defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

The response back should look something like this:

The domain/default pair of (/Users//.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist

If the message doesn’t say that the pair “does not exist,” than Flashback is present on your system. Assuming the message is negative, let’s keep going. Now check out this line:

defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment

That should generate the same “does not exist” message. Again, if it doesn’t then your Mac has been infected with Flashback. If it’s negative try this line:

defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment

Again, the message is (hopefully) negative. If it’s not, then you most certainly have the Flashback Virus. Which brings us to the next step, removal. Not to worry too much though, a special app made by Kaspersky Labs, found here, can remove the infection from your system. While malware and viruses generally hit Windows based machines more often, it doesn’t mean Apple’s OS X is anymore secure. Virus detection software only goes so far, it takes savvy computer use to stay ahead of the curve. Knowing how to avoid suspicious links and files are more useful in preventing an exploit than the top virus protection software can offer.


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