A group of Mac computers belonging to Apple employees were hacked earlier this week, infecting them with several viruses. Tuesday’s announcement provided the tech world with an unprecedented admittance by the company, revealing the largest known cyber attack targeting Apple computers used by corporations.
The attack was reportedly so widespread that it infected not only Apple’s own employees, but also other corporations using Mac computers. The security breach used to infect the computers, according to reports, comes from the Oracle Java plug-in that is used while surfing online. The malicious software was released, at least in part, through a website intended for iPhone software developers. As a result, both companies have taken several steps aiming to contain the infection to those computers that have already been treated. Both Apple and Java have immediately released emergency security patches. Apple has also urged a number of developers to run tests on their developer codes, in order to make sure that the infection does not advance further down their product line to Apple’s iPhone users. Oracle strongly recommends that users update their browser’s Java plug-ins as soon as possible, in order to refrain from future attacks.
The latest cyber attack join several hacking attempts targeting the servers and computers of big corporations, including Twitter, Facebook, and the New York Times. This announcement increases tensions, as the U.S. government is accusing the Chinese government of being responsible for past hacking attempts. In contrast to past incidents, Reuters reports, the source of this infection has yet to be clearly traced back to any source. American cyber-security firm Mandiant, which has been hired by a number of firms in the past, has released findings indicating that cyber attacks on the New York Times and Facebook systems have been traced back to a secret Chinese military unit, stationed in a suburb of Shanghai. The U.S. government has backed up these claims, adding that it has long raised concerns that the Chinese government is standing behind these cyber attacks. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney reinvigorated these claims, saying that the Obama administration has been tracking these attempts that seem to be traced back to China time and time again. Despite these allegations, it is still difficult to determine if the attacks described by Facebook and Apple are part of China’s cyber-attacks.
Charlie Miller, a Mac expert and author of the Mac Hacker’s Handbook, claims that Apple’s security advantage, up until now, was that “nobody bothered to attack it. When hackers bother to attack it…That goes away if someone bothers to attack it.” In the company’s statement, Apple has indicated that it is cooperating with law enforcement in order to find the criminals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the matter. According to Oracle’s statement issued by the company, even costumers who did not update their Java software in a long time “will be able to apply the updated Critical Patch Update when it is published, and will gain the benefit of all previously released Java SE fixes.”
Apple announced that it plans on releasing a software that would costumers to check if their own computers are infected and promptly fix any issues. These security issues have led to a minor downward trend in Apple’s stock prices, but the company is sure to regain these loses in coming weeks.