Computing world observers, and Mac fans in particular, were shocked by the revelation of a botnet that specifically targeted Apple computers. The Flashback botnet used the flashback trojan to create a global network of zombie Mac computers. All told, the network numbered more than half a million Apple Macintosh computers. Thankfully, it looks like the botnet’s terror days will soon be over. According to a report by Dr. Web, the Russian network security firm that discovered the Flashback trojan issue last month, the botnet’s number of infected computers is quickly shrinking. According to the latest figures released by the firm, there are still around 460,000 Macs that remain infected. However, the botnet created by the infected computers is rapidly losing network members. The loss rate is close to one hundred thousand macs per week. What explains the rapid loss of botnet machines? Apple has released a tool for getting rid of the trojan and many Mac users are finally getting around to applying the tool. Others have gone on to install antivirus software.
Given its current rate of cleanup, Dr. Web’s chief executive, Boris Sharov, estimates that the botnet will finally die off within a month. One crucial factor in the rapid cleanup of the Flashback infestation is that the the number of new Macs being infected by the trojan has been practically halted. Apple made sure of this by releasing a Java update to prevent the use of the exploit used by Flashback to silently install on victims’ machines. The trojan was installed using hijacked installations of WordPress blog software. Still, Sharov said that the overall disinfection rate proceeded much slower than a comparable Windows targeted botnet. He attributes this to the overconfidence of Mac users toward their computer’s security vulnerability against trojans and other malware. In previous years, this was a justifiable confidence. However, as Mac products being taking larger market shares, it has become more cost-effective to target them for security breaches and malware infection than previously. The overconfidence has led to Mac users’ slow uptake of Apple’s quickly released a disinfection tool. The overconfidence all explains the low rates of antivirus software use among Mac users.