Even though Apple recently released a removal tool together with a patch to prevent future infection, the Flashback malware is reported to still be on a large number of Mac computers.
Computer security firm Symantec said in a blog post on Tuesday that some 140,000 Mac machines remain infected, a significant drop from the 600,000 reported earlier this month but more than expected considering the publicity given to the malware, as well as the release of removal tools and patches from Apple, Symantec and other security firms.
“We had originally believed that we would have seen a greater decline in infections at this point in time, but this has proven not to be the case,” Symantec’s post said. The number of infected Macs is declining daily, but the rate of removal is slowing, as the table below shows.
It’s not entirely clear why this is the case. Of course, it’s possible some Mac users still haven’t heard about the malware and have no scheduled check in place for software updates.
Flashback is a Trojan that has been installing itself on Mac machines around the world — though mostly on ones located in the US and Canada — and is designed to nab personal information from Mac owners such as usernames and passwords.
Possibly the most alarming characteristic of Flashback — especially for those Mac users who until recently still believed Macs were immune to such infections — is that it can install itself on a machine simply by a user visiting an infected webpage.
The malware is reported to be at the center of one of the worst Mac attacks in decades, although to keep it in perspective, it has only affected a tiny percentage of all Mac computers in operation today.
If you’re a Mac user, the chances are you’re not infected, but if you haven’t already, you really should consider performing a software update to protect your computer or simply visit Apple’s support page here where you’ll find the Flashback removal tool and relevant patches.