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Bad news for Apple users as first ever ransomware targeting Macs appears

The vast majority of users are safe but it’s not good news for the platform.

Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

A SECURITY RESEARCH firm has claimed to have discovered the first example of ransomware that specifically targets Apple Mac computers.

Palo Alto Networks claims to have found the first fully functional example of ransomware targeting OS X.

Called KeRanger, if you install software which contains it, it will end up encrypting your files after three days before demanding you to pay a ransom of one bitcoin (€369.89 at the time of writing) to regain control.

In this case, it was done through a version of the popular BitTorrent program, Transmission. The method used to infect it is unknown but a possible theory from Palo Alto Networks is the official site was compromised and the files were replaced by infected versions.

The creators of Transmission have removed the malware-infected version and later posted an update telling everyone running version 2.90 on OS X to upgrade as they “may have downloaded a malware-infected file”.

It also recommended those running 2.91 to upgrade as a precaution. While that version wasn’t infected, it didn’t remove the malware-infected file.

Those who try to install version 2.90 now and try to run it will be shown a warning dialog telling them that Transmission will damage their computer.

fig13-500x220 The warning Mac users will see. Source: Palo Alto Networks

Ransomware is a type of malware which takes over a computer and either locks a user out or threatens to destroy their data until they pay a ransom. Usually, the ransom is paid through a digital currency like Bitcoin as it’s encrypted and cannot be tracked.

Ransomware attacks are usually associated with PCs and smartphones but this is the first time a complete version has been found targeting Apple computers.

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