Macintosh Java malware has mutated!

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Over the last few weeks we’ve read that hundreds of thousands of Apple Macintosh computers running OSX have become infected with the Flashback trojan, which is a type of virus that could, through a hole in Java security, infect your Mac and connect it to a botnet of over half a million other Macs.

And we’ve also read that Apple has released updates to fix the security problem and clean up any infected computers.

The problem is, the Flashback.s malware is pretty tricky and, it seems, is able to hide from Apple’s latest fix:

“On Monday, however, researchers at Intego, another computer security firm, discovered that a new variant of the malware, called Flashback.S, continued to spread through the same Java vulnerability. Security researchers said the variant was “actively being distributed in the wild” and noted that the malware deletes traces of itself on victims’ machines to avoid detection.
The original Flashback variant used infected computers for click fraud, in which clicks on a Web advertisement are manipulated in exchange for kickbacks. Intego researchers did not say what the new variant of Flashback is being used for. But as with all malware, its creators can choose to use infected computers however they like.”

So, what’s a body to do?
SoftwareUpdate.jpgWell, right now, there doesn’t seem to be a fix addressed directly at this Flashback variant. That being said, I’m sure that Apple and security companies are on it and will have updates available shortly.

In the meantime, the first thing is to make sure your Mac is happily protected updated with the latest software updates and patches from Apple — here’s how to check on your Mac.

Then, you’ll likely want to look into some sort of antivirus or security software. Future Shop has a whole host of solutions here.

And finally, you’ll want to improve your downloading habits. Remember, you are your Mac’s best security:

  • Use common sense when considering downloading a file
  • Only download files from large, reputable sites
  • Keep your system software (step one above) and anti-malware software (step two above) up to date with the latest malware definitions and patches

Ultimately, the best way to protect your computer is to keep an ear open to the current virus activity. By staying informed, there are fewer chances you’ll fall prey to a carefully crafted scheme to get malware on your precious Mac.

So, got a Mac? How do you keep it safe?

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Back to School 101: Security Software

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Summer’s almost over and if you’ve got a student in your family, it’s time to start thinking about prepping their computer to safely return to Hogworts school.

Proper computer security is a defensive game. You want to build processes (both software and behavioural) that encase your computing environment in a series of protective shells, protecting the data (through backups) protecting the software and system integrity (through anti-virus scans and monitoring), and protecting what gets to your computer (through device and network monitoring).

Computer security is a very complex topic, but luckily, there’s a few great programs out there that do all the heavy lifting for you, letting you worry about doing your computing thing, while they do their security thing.
Continue reading “Back to School 101: Security Software”

Libraries are dead. Long live the Librarian!

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I love it when coincidence and synergy lead to a blog post, this post in fact.

In a post earlier this week, Seth Godin lead us through the history of the Library and the Librarian. In his post, he eventually settled on the somewhat alarming concept that the Library was basically dead:

Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don’t shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won’t unless coerced.

They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

Book warehouse?
Given the migration of information from paper to digital forms, the library will perhaps, outlive its role as a warehouse for books. Rather, it’ll become a place where some cool tech and some very well informed people meet and do great things with information (and here’s where the next part of the coincidence happens)  — such as Biblion: The Boundless Library, a cool new iPad app from the New York Public Library:

… go on an exclusive journey deep into the Library’s legendary stacks. This app is designed to open up hidden parts of the collections and the myriad storylines they hold and preserve…through a unique immersive experience. In this free iPad app you will hold documents, images, films, audio, and essays — directly from the collections in your own hands.

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Also earlier this week, the New York Public Library launched the redesigned and updated Biblion app. In this case, Biblion is a themed approach to exploring the library. The first release digs into the huge archives relating to the 1939-1940 Worlds Fair in New York. Download the free app and you’ll:

  • read original essays from such prominent writers as Karen Abbott, William Grimes, Henry Jenkins, Elliott Kalan, James Mauro, and others
  • view General Motors’ famous Futurama ride, in full color, from the original carousel!
  • explore the development of the Fair’s designs, uniforms, buildings, and exhibits, including Salvador Dalí’s then-shocking Dream of Venus extravaganza
  • relish the outrageous restaurant ideas that never made the cut
  • learn about the fate of the Czechoslovakia Pavilion after the country was invaded by Hitler
  • discover what was buried inside the Westinghouse Time Capsule … which won’t be opened until the year 6939!
  • fly from story to story, charting your own journey through the stacks…

It’s made of librarians!
Cool apps like this don’t  just magically appear out of thin air. Developers need to create the code, and content managers need to pull all the interesting content together in a way that makes sense to you and me, the viewer. In this case, the content managers are Librarians, and it’s exciting to see them creating these mashups of library science and technology.

What about the books?
As much as I enjoy reading a good book (the ink and paper type) I think their days are numbered. Except for significant works of a historical nature, many books more easily stored, searched and referenced digitally. Which means the book warehouses (libraries) can evolve into their next phase. I’m not sure what that would be, but I bet we’re going to love it :smileyhappy:

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