As if Adobe’s Flash didn’t have enough problems on the Mac, here comes another. Flash as malware.
How Did We Get Here?
It all started years ago when Adobe decided the Mac was about to die, so why bother to improve Adobe’s Mac apps, including Flash. The problem was intensified when the Mac didn’t die, but instead, prospered beyond imagination.
Meanwhile, Flash became the whipping dog of Mac apps, the single greatest cause of crashes in Apple’s Safari browser, and the target of disdain and disgust by Apple and Mac faithful. With all the problems Flash brings to every device, is it any wonder there’s no Flash on iPhones or iPads? Apple wants those devices to work.
Flash Improves, Flash Goes Bad
Before embracing the future of the web as HTML5, Adobe tried to improve Flash on the Mac, with some measure of success. The result? Fewer crashes, less CPU hogging, but still a tarnished reputation.
Flash, it seems, is on the way out, and a quick exit would benefit everyone. Why?
Because of Mac malware posing as a Flash player installer. That’s right. Flash is pseudo malware. Security specialist Intego has tracked a Mac trojan horse (not a virus or worm– you have to install it on your Mac, but may do so unknowingly) that can put the smack down on your Mac. Why is this a concern? Because Apple, acting as a fascist godfather, decrees, no flash for you.
No Flash For You!
New Mac models don’t ship with the Flash plugin preference pane installed. No Flash. If you want Flash, you’ll have to install it yourself. The aforementioned trojan horse masquerades as a Flash Installer app; perfect for unaware Mac users who need or want to install Flash.
What does it do? Bad things. If you click on the wrong link or site to download what you think is a Flash player installer you may download the malware instead. The trojan horse deactivates some security apps. It reports itself to a remote site, and injects other code into various Mac apps.
It’s bad enough that Flash has a bad name because of the history of performance issues on a Mac, now it has a bad name because it’s associated with malware mischief. Ironic, no?
Protect Thyself. How?
This is just too easy. Don’t. Install. Flash. But that may not be practical, so make sure you visit only the official Adobe site to download the official Flash installer.
Or, do as I do. No Flash on Safari. It runs better without Flash anyway. Most web sites that send out ads or streaming video in Flash will alternate automatically to something that works on a Flashless Mac. For those other sites, I use Google Chrome because it has Flash already built-in.
How would you know if your Mac is affected or infected? That’s the beauty of the life of malware protectors, Intego and friends. Buy their security protection software and they’ll be happy to tell you.