Microsoft's Macs Hacked in Java Attack
In yet another round of Friday-afternoon security disclosures, Microsoft today (Feb. 22) admitted that it had fallen victim to the same Java-based malware attacks that plagued Twitter, Facebook and Apple.
"As reported by Facebook and Apple, Microsoft can confirm that we also recently experienced a similar security intrusion," wrote Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Security General Manager Matt Thomlinson in a Microsoft company blog posting put up at 5:45 p.m. ET.
Even more significantly, it wasn't Microsoft's Windows computers that were hacked so much as it was Microsoft's Macs.
"We found a small number of computers, including some in our Mac business unit, that were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations," Thomlinson wrote. "We have no evidence of customer data being affected and our investigation is ongoing."
Late last Friday (Feb. 15), Facebook dropped the news that its network had been penetrated in January by malicious software that infected some of its computers.
Facebook disclosed more than did Twitter, Apple or indeed Microsoft; it chronicled how an infected website had exploited a flaw in Java software to get through browser security, and said that other companies had been affected as well.
It's not clear whether Macs were more susceptible than other machines to the Java flaw, which was fully patched by Java maker Oracle on Feb. 1. (All the infections presumably took place last month.)
But Apple laptops are popular among social-media software developers, and no other kind of machine has been mentioned in any of the Java-related disclosures.
Java is a self-contained software platform that lets applications, especially Web-based ones, run equally well on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
That makes it ideal for malware writers, who can be sure their malicious code will attack anything.
Unless you're a Web developer, use specialized Web tools or need to often run Web-conferencing software, there's little reason to have Java in your browser. We've written a guide on how to disable it.
And if you're on a Mac, don't believe the old adage that Macs are immune to malware. Install Mac anti-virus software now.