Apple forces update on Mac users to stop hack

Vulnerability could have led to hackers remotely taking over computers, experts say

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The Independent Tech

A critical vulnerability in computers that could allow hackers remote access to computers was fixed on Apple computers last night, by the first update that the company has ever pushed onto its users.

The update addresses a critical problem that affects not just Macs but also computers running industrial control systems. The vulnerability was noticed by researchers in Google’s security team, and the US government warned about the problem on Friday.

The exploit makes use of a vulnerability in the network time protocol — part of the operating system that allows computers’ clocks to be synchronized.

When users have received the update from Apple, a small notification will appear on screen. But otherwise the update is entirely seamless.

Apple usually releases security updates through its regular software update system, which downloads them through the App Store in Mac OS. But that typically requires users to tell the computer to download the app, and an Apple spokesperson told Reuters that it wanted to protect customers as quickly as possible.

The technology to push out updates has been available to Apple before, but the company has never used it. It also allows Apple to push out the update without requiring users to restart their computer.

Apple doesn’t know of any cases where Mac computers were hit by hackers looking to exploit the bug, Apple spokesman Bill Evans told Reuters.