Since Microsoft released its Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February, millions of users have downloaded the software giant’s latest operating system, which looks to carefully blend its existing mobile and desktop experiences into one. According to research from ad network Chitika, the Windows 8 CP adoption rate in the U.S. and Canada has doubled that of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple’s upcoming operating system. Of course Microsoft’s Windows 8 preview is publicly available for free while Apple’s Mountain Lion preview is available only to those with paid developer accounts. Chitika’s research was conducted from April 13th to April 19th and it analyzed hundreds of millions of impressions across the Chitika ad network. The Consumer Preview makes up .1% of all Windows traffic and exhibits traffic levels more than three times the peak level that the Windows 8 Developer Preview produced. The increased level of activity is a good sign for Microsoft, which will reportedly complete work on Windows 8 this summer. According to rumors, the first wave of PCs and tablets powered by the new platform are slated to launch in October. More →
Apple announced on Wednesday that its annual Worldwide Developer Conference will take place from June 11th through June 15th this year in San Francisco, California. The company made tickets available at around 8:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, and they were sold out within two hours, likely before most West Coast-based developers even woke up. Tickets are not transferable this year and as such, developers who didn’t manage to secure a ticket don’t have many options. One man, however, found a way around Apple’s restrictions. More →
Security firm Intego on Monday announced that it had discovered a new variant of the Flashback malware called Flashback.S that continues to use a Java vulnerability Apple has already patched. This variant requires no password to install, and it places its files into the user’s home folder in “~/Library/LaunchAgents/com. java.update.plist” and “~/.jupdate.” Once Fashback.S is installed, it will then delete all files and folders in “~/Library/Caches/Java/cache” in order to delete the applet from the infected Mac, and avoid detection. The virus is actively being distributed, although it will not install if it finds Intego VirusBarrier X6, Xcode or Little Snitch installed on the Mac it tries to attack.
A group of developers in Russia recently launched the “HackStore,” a centralized location for third-party OS X applications. Like Cydia on iOS, the HackStore is a software hub that allows developers to distribute applications without having to endure Apple’s approval process. The developers behind the project claim that piracy will not be tolerated in their app store, though it is unclear exactly what measures they are taking to prevent pirated software from being distributed through the HackStore. “The biggest Mac Appstore problem is that they limit their users in everything, without giving an opportunity to expand these limits,” HackStore’s creators wrote on their website. “This is not correct, because ONLY users should decide which applications they should install and which one do not. We think HackStore [will] break through the narrow confines of Mac Appstore.” More →
Security firm Sophos on Tuesday indicated that a surprisingly high level of malware has been found on Mac computers — the firm’s research revealed that one in every five Mac computers is harboring some kind of Windows malware. Of the 100,000 customers sampled through Sophos’s antivirus offerings, 20% of users were found to be carrying one or more instances of Windows malware. The firm highlighted that Windows malware on a Mac won’t cause any harm, however, unless the computer also runs a Windows partition in addition to OS X. The company’s research found that just 2.7% of Macs that installed the company’s free anti-virus software were infected by OS X malware. Nearly all of the OS X malware discovered was an iteration of the “Flashback” trojan called “Flshplyr.” Sophos said that cybercriminals may find Macs to be targets because OS X users are less likely to be running an anti-virus software, however Macs can get viruses and the right software can keep a user’s computer safe. A second pie chart follows below. More →
Research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicts that Apple may discontinue the 17-inch MacBook Pro model due to weak sales, MacRumors reported on Monday. The analyst has previously offered accurate information regarding the discontinuation of Mac products, specifically the 13-inch Macbook in 2011. Kuo estimates Apple will sell 5.32 million Mac computers in the second quarter of 2012, representing a 35.2% year-over-year increase. The Cupertino-based company is expected to launch an updated line of MacBook computers this summer that will be will be thinner and may feature Retina-resolution displays. More →
Apple responded fairly quickly to news that more than 600,000 Mac computers were infected with a trojan virus called “Flashback.” One week after the massive botnet was discovered, Apple issued an update fixing the Java vulnerability that allowed Flashback to infect the machines, as well as a removal tool for affected machines. Despite the company’s efforts, Symantec stated on Tuesday evening that approximately 140,000 OS X PCs were still infected with the virus at that time. “The statistics from our sinkhole are showing declining numbers on a daily basis,” the company wrote on its blog. “However, we had originally believed that we would have seen a greater decline in infections at this point in time, but this has proven not to be the case. Currently, it appears that the number of infected computers has tapered off, but remains around the 140,000 mark.” Symantec offers its own Flashback removal tool separate from the one Apple made available in a system update on April 12th. More →
The “Flashback” trojan virus affecting at least 600,000 Macs was discovered last week that is capable of intercepting passwords and other private data. The discovery prompted Apple to release a Java update for OS X users that removed a number of common variants of the virus. Securelist on Saturday found another Mac trojan that is also spread through Java exploits, however. The malware, called Backdoor.OSX.SabPub, can take screenshots of a user’s current session, execute commands on an infected machine and connect to a remote website to transmit the data. It is not clear how users get infected with the trojan, but because of the low number of instances and the trojan’s backdoor functionality, Securelist speculates that it is most likely used in targeted attacks, possibly launched through emails containing a URL pointing to two one of websites hosting the exploit. More →
Apple on Thursday released Java update for OS X that removes a number of common variants of the Flashback trojan virus. Discovered last week to have infected more than 600,000 Mac computers, Flashback is a trojan that is capable of intercepting sensitive data and transmitting it back to an attacker. Security experts at F-Secure published instructions on how to manually detect and remove the malware, but Apple’s new Java update will handle the process automatically. The update, Java for OS X Lion 2012-003, is available for download immediately from within Apple’s integrated OS X software update utility.
Apple on Friday issued a second software update to address a security flaw on its OS X operating system that has allowed a massive botnet to form. The update, “Java for OS X 2012-002,” is only available for desktop and laptop PCs running OS X Lion 10.7; Apple issued a similar update last week for both Lion and Snow Leopard, and the exploit was seemingly addressed properly the first time on the Snow Leopard OS. Russian anti-virus experts revealed earlier this week that the “Flashback” trojan virus had utilized a Java vulnerability to infect more than 600,000 Mac computers worldwide. The trojan is capable of intercepting sensitive data such as passwords and other personal information, and transmitting the data back to a host. A separate firm later published instructions detailing how to detect and remove the virus, and Apple’s new update should be the last step in protecting its systems from further attacks. Apple had not yet published details surrounding the new update on its website at the time of this writing. More →
Microsoft’s wildly popular Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 brought motion-based controls to the masses when it launched in late 2010. While similar technology will be built into a variety of consumer electronics moving forward — especially HDTVs — Mac users now have access to a free app that will add gesture controls to their current OS X computers. Currently compatible with just two programs, iTunes and Spotify, the Flutter app for Mac allows users to control music and video playback by making hand gestures that are recorded and relayed by the PC’s built-in iSight camera. The app is an early alpha build, yet we found that it performs as described and it worked well even from a few feet away. Flutter is not yet available in the Mac App Store, but it can be downloaded for free directly from the company’s website. A video showcasing the app follows below. More →
There’s no going back to a standard-resolution display after using the new iPad, the iPhone 4 and 4S, or any one of a number of Android phones with qHD or better resolution, and Apple may be preparing to create a similar experience with its notebook computers. Apple’s next-generation MacBook line of laptops could feature high-definition Retina displays according to a recent report from Ars Technica. MacBooks with high-resolution Retina displays could launch as soon as this summer according to the site’s sources, one of which found double-sized graphics in the most recent preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. ”I would interpret it to mean that Retina [MacBook] is close; perhaps concurrent with the release of OS X 10.8,” the unnamed source said. Apple is expected to launch an updated line of laptop computers this summer, including thinner 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros. More →
Following multiple reports claiming Apple was working with suppliers and manufacturing partners to develop a new 15-inch MacBook Air, it now looks as though the rumored slim 15-inch laptop is part of a redesigned MacBook line that will also include a 13-inch model. Citing unnamed sources within Apple’s supply chain, DigiTimes on Friday reported that new thinner MacBook Pro laptops have entered production and shipments could begin as soon as this month. Monthly yield is expected to initially fall between 100,000 and 150,000 units, but the site claims shipments will soon climb to 900,000 units. Details are scare beyond the thinner case, and no launch time frame was provided. An earlier report suggested Apple’s slimmer 15-inch notebook will launch in April. More →