One of the bad jokes of April was that a Java enabled malware had attacked millions of Apple Mac users. It’s not unpredictable considering Apple since the introduction of the iPhone and iPad has become one of the most popular and active technology companies in the world. So of course it will attract the disaffected and discontent who will launch attacks on Apple systems. Sadly I am afraid the protection we had from Apple being a niche player in a much larger world is gone and disappeared in the bright light of popular high tech toys.
Today MacWorld published an analysis of how Apple has responded to the attack. Since the infection was noticed Apple has sent Mac users three new Java upgrades. The latest apparently contains a “tool to remove the flashback malware from infected systems”. I can’t say if this will be continued by Apple vigilance and equally effective and timely responses in the future. But in the personal computer world in the past user were pretty much on their own and had to spend money and effort to protect their computers from the risk of attackers infecting and damaging personal computer resources.
It seems maybe a bit paternalistic on Apple’s part. But personally I would like having expert eyes behind me that will step in with upgrades and fixes to make using a computer and the internet less risky. It is inhumanely technical and almost alien to those of us who are not part of corporate consumerism, so it is welcome that Apple identifies so readily with its customers the people who have become a part of the community. I felt this somewhat over a decade ago when I moved from the PC world to Apple, and even though I had problems that were addressed in a way that supported my loyalty, I was not fully convinced being a part of the press and known to be outspoken. Was Apple just helping me because I have a voice and might write critically of them? But this very different public role Apple has taken in defense of users to protect them from external attacks and the subterfuge of hackers, has put Apple on the side of people, its customers. The Apple stores, now in ever more communities is a symbol unlike their competitors they do not hide from the people who depend on them.
This recent flashback malware is the first significant general attack on Mac users and Apple with its latest Java upgrade assumes responsibility in its protection strategy. So let’s hope the enemy takes a lesson from the Apple response and unlike others Apple will not put its customers out on their own in the position of dealing with security and at the mercy of dubious outside companies that make a profit from the fears of people who are at risk, encouraging the attackers to do even more damage.