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Apple promises software to kill Flashback malware

Apple is working on software to identify and remove a piece of Malware thought to have infected over 600,000 Macs.

Apple is building software to identify and remove a piece of malware thought to have infected over half a million Macs around the globe.

The dodgy program, called Flashback, uses a vulnerability in Java to sneak into Apple's shiny computers. Once it burrows in, Flashback is designed to grab passwords and other information, before sending that data back to remote servers.

While Java-maker Oracle issued a patch for Windows machines in February, Apple only released that patch to Mac owners last Tuesday. A Russian anti-virus company counted the number of infected Macs at over 600,000. 

Apple has finally spoken regarding the issue, issuing a statement on its support site. The Cupertino company writes, "Apple is developing software that will detect and remove the Flashback malware".

Furthermore, Apple has vowed to try and shut down the servers used by the malware's authors by co-operating with Internet service providers. It says it is, "working with ISPs worldwide to disable this command and control network".

That all sounds very officious but I wonder whether Mac owners will be satisfied with the response. Apple hasn't specified a date when customers can expect the search-and-destroy software, and the Java patch issued on 3 April is only available to computers running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later.

That means if you're running OS X 10.5 or earlier, you will still be vulnerable to accidentally downloading the nasty bug.

If you're concerned you may have been infected by the Flashback malware, or just fancy checking to be safe, CNET's published a handy guide on finding and removing the pesky program.

What do you think of Apple's response? Was it quick enough? Are Macs safer than Windows PCs or vice-versa? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.