Last night, over a day after the 2012-003 Java update for OS X was released, Apple pushed out a standalone Flashback malware removal utility.
The 2012-003 Java update implements a new Java applet security measure that intelligently disables the automatic execution of applets. The update also removes common variants of the Flashback malware.
The tool that Apple released last night differs from the latest security update for OS X in that it doesn’t require Java to cleanse Macs of the virus. Despite being standalone utility, the tool still purges the same variants of Flashback as the Java update.
Here are the transcribed details for the standalone utility (taken from Apple’s support document):
This Flashback malware removal tool that will remove the most common variants of the Flashback malware.
If the Flashback malware is found, a dialog will be presented notifying the user that malware was removed.
In some cases, the Flashback malware removal tool may need to restart your computer in order to completely remove the Flashback malware.
This update is recommended for all OS X Lion users without Java installed.
However, while the most dangerous variety of the Flashback malware exploits vulnerabilities in Java that have since been patched, there are other versions that remain a potential threat. Some spinoffs of Flashback have been constructed to infiltrate and control users’ systems via social engineering and various other deceitful methods. But, thankfully, the new standalone utility should be able to successfully remove most variants of Flashback that don’t rely on the conventional method of exploitation.
Despite the fact that the war against Flashback isn’t over, Apple has certainy done a great job these past few days with their efforts to neutralize the threat. In addition to creating tools and releasing updates to hopefully annihilate the virus, it’s said that Apple is working with Internet service providers around the globe to disable any servers that send command to the malware.
Stay tuned for more coverage on Flashback and the tools Apple releases to combat the threat.