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Apple releases Flashback malware removal tool

Apple Thursday issued a software tool that users can download to remove Flashback, the malware that may have infected between 550,000 and 600,000 Macs at its peak in recent weeks.

Mac users can get the free tool by clicking on Software Update in the Apple menu, or by going to this Apple support site and manually downloading it.

Apple says that the update is recommended for "all Mac users with Java installed."

Security firm F-Secure on Wednesday also released a free tool to detect and remove Flashback. 

Meanwhile security software maker Kaspersky Lab said its free "Kaspersky Flashfake Removal Tool" has been "temporarily suspended," and apologized for the inconvenience.

"In some cases it is possible that the use of the tool could result in erroneous removal of certain user settings including auto-start configurations, user configurations in browsers, and file sharing data," the company said in a statement.

"The company will release an updated version of the utility with the bug corrected and will send a notification as soon as it’s available."

Flashback gets its name from an early incarnation of the Trojan late last year.

Intego, maker of Mac security software, said Flashback initially was a "fake Adobe Flash installer (hence the name Flashback)," but then "later changed to impersonate a Software Update dialog, before using Java vulnerabilities to install."

Once installed, the malware can be used by criminals to steal personal information, including passwords.

The number of Macs infected by the Flashback malware decreased by more than half, from 550,000 to 600,000 computers last week to 270,000 on Wednesday, security software maker Symantec said.

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