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More than half a million Apple computers including hundreds in Australia have been hit by malware virus according DR Web a Russian ani virus Company.A Flashback Trojan, has been installed on the Apple Mac, this allows them to be hijacked and used as a “botnet”.

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the malware, Apple has released a security update, however users who have not installed the patch remain exposed.

Flashback was first detected last September when anti-virus researchers flagged up software masquerading itself as a Flash Player update. Once downloaded it deactivated some of the computer’s security software.

Later versions of the malware exploited weaknesses in the Java programming language to allow the code to be installed from bogus sites without the user’s permission.

Security firm Dr Web informed the BBC that once the Trojan was installed it sent a message to the intruder’s control server with a unique ID to identify the infected machine.

“By introducing the code criminals are potentially able to control the machine,” the firm’s chief executive Boris Sharov told the BBC.

“We stress the word potential as we have never seen any malicious activity since we hijacked the botnet to take it out of criminals’ hands. However, we know people create viruses to get money.

“The largest amounts of bots – based on the IP addresses we identified – are in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, so it appears to have targeted English-speaking people.”

He also noted 274 of the infected computers detected are believed to be located in Cupertino, California, which is where Apple’s headquarters is located. 

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