Mac users have been hit by “ransomware”, one of the most dangerous and malicious kinds of software, for the first known time.
The newly-discovered “KeRanger” attacks encrypts all of the data on machines that it gains access to, and then forces their owners to pay so that they can re-gain access to the device.
The tools are already hugely popular, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the cyber-criminals that use them. But KeRanger is the first time that Apple’s computers, which are often more resilient to cyber threats, are known to have been affected.
KeRanger forces people affected by it to pay $400 per computer to get access to their files. As with many such attacks, the hackers actually require payment in Bitcoin, which makes it harder to trace the attackers.
If people don’t pay the charge and don’t get their computers cleaned, they might start losing access to the files installed on them soon. That could happen even if they have knowingly been presented with the ransom demand.
The software made its way onto Apple computers through the Transmission BitTorrent client. That software is used for downloading torrents, but the new release of the software also came with the dangerous files bundled in.
The makers of Transmission released a new version of the software that automatically removes the malware from computers that it’s installed on. It advised users to install the software as soon as possible.
Apple told Reuters that it had taken steps to stop the software working. It had revoked a digital certificate that allowed the software to install itself on computers, the company said.
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