Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Apple hacked in what could be the biggest attack on Mac computers ever

Apple hacked in what could be the biggest attack on Mac computers ever

Apple hacked in what could be the biggest attack on Mac computers ever

Are Mac computers really any more secure than their Windows counterparts? The answer these days seems obvious.

Apple issued a statement on Tuesday admitting that it had been targeted by hackers who infected computers on the company's own network with malware through a Java vulnerability.

According to numerous reports, the same Java flaw was used to infect computers at Facebook last month, an attack that the social network company described on Friday.

Though Apple reported that no data had been compromised, Mac computers anywhere could be infected, and the Cupertino company is expected t o release a tool soon that will help mitigate the damage.

Apple's statement

"Apple has identified malware which infected a limited number of Mac systems through a vulnerability in the Java plug-in for browsers," said a statement released by Apple on Tuesday.

"The malware was employed in an attack against Apple and other companies, and was spread through a website for software developers. We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network. There is no evidence that any data left Apple," the statement continued.

That's not all there is to it, though; according to Reuters, which claimed to have spoken with "a person briefed on the investigation into the attacks," this may be the biggest cyber attack yet on OS X.

The Reuters source reportedly said that "this is the first really big attack on Macs," and that "Apple has more on its hands than the attack on it self."

Indeed, Apple reportedly declined to disclose exactly how many companies were affected by attacks based on this Java exploit (or expand on its statement at all), but Reuters' source claimed that it was in the hundreds, and that some of those companies included defense contractors.

Hide your PC, hide your Mac

Apple said in its statement that it's working with Johnny Law to bring its attackers to justice, and noted that Mac computers have shipped without Oracle's Java since OS X 10.7 Lion was released in 2011.

Users can of course install it themselves, but according to Apple, Java is also automatically uninstalled if it's not used for 35 days.

Apple computers used to be considered more secure than Windows PCs, but that golden age for Apple is likely at an end.

This latest attack by hackers is hardly an isolated cas e, though it's not as if OS X is the only system being targeted.

Twitter was hacked earlier this month, and attacks on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal preceded that.

Reuters went so far as to blame China, drawing a link between the White House's concerns with Chinese cyber-theft and the recent spate of attacks on U.S. computers.

Either way, Apple is at least looking to protect its own users, and will release a Java malware removal tool to users on Tuesday.

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