Mac Users Face Increased Ransomware Threats

Apple Inc. has a reputation for building secure devices, but don’t become too complacent because ransomware threats to Mac users are on the rise.

While ransomware attacks against Microsoft Windows-based computers and servers remain far more prevalent, security researchers have detected new Mac threats in recent years and expect to see new threats in the future. Here’s a quick look at three forms of ransomware that are known to target Mac users:

KeRanger disguises itself as a popular application
Imagine this: You go to download a copy of Transmission, the popular torrent download application, only to find that it infects your computer with ransomware. That’s what happened to more than 7,000 Mac users in 2016 after cybercriminals hacked into the Transmission website and implanted KeRanger—ransomware that targets Mac OS X—into the downloads. The downloads were stamped with the official Transmission developer certificate so Gatekeeper, the Mac function that validates applications, was easily fooled.

The ransomware was hidden inside a file called general.rtf and was designed to wait three days before encrypting user data. After encrypting files, the malicious software displayed a ransom note demanding one bitcoin. The ransomware installer has since been removed from Transmission’s website.

Think you’re fixing apps with Patcher? Think again
Patcher disguises itself as a patching tool for well-known apps like Adobe Premiere Pro and Microsoft Office. The ransomware, which has been downloaded via BitTorrent, is so poorly designed that even the malware’s creators are unable to supply decryption keys to victims who pay the ransom.

Patcher stores important files, documents, pictures and other media in an encrypted .zip file and deletes the original data. It then attempts to wipe the free space on the drive so that disk recovery tools will be ineffective. Patcher concludes by scattering copies of “README!.txt” in the victim’s document and picture folders. The README! file contains ransom payment instructions.

FindZip makes you hunt for decryption keys
Much like Patcher, FindZip ransomware attacks Mac users by copying important files into an encrypted .zip file and deleting the original data. FindZip, which is also known as Filecoder, has no decryption capabilities so victims who pay the ransom will not be able to recover their data. The good news is that you can discover the decryption keys by comparing an unencrypted file to an encrypted one. Avast has created a tool that automates the process of discovering the tools and decrypting files.

Protect your Mac from ransomware
Mac users are clearly not free from the threat of ransomware. While not at epidemic proportions, ransomware attacks against Macs have seen widespread success by breaking into systems that were assumed secure. Fortunately, users today have access to a variety of backup options. You can add an extra layer of protection to your Mac computer by stepping beyond the Apple ecosystem of TimeMachine nearline backups and iCloud synchronization and embracing a third-party cloud backup solution.

For more news and information on the battle against ransomware, visit the FightRansomware.com homepage today.

Mac Viruses

Apple’s recent ads talk about how there are no viruses written for
Mac. That statement is not entirely true. Viruses are released for
Mac. in 2005, 143 viruses targeted Macintosh computers. Compare this
with the 150,000 written for PCs and it does not sound bad but the
statement is still incorrect. By the way, if you want to view the new
Macintosh ads, go here.
http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/

Mac Mini

I bought a Mac mini a few weeks ago. I have had my eyes on one for
quite some time. I love it that they are so small. I have it hooked
up to my 23" Apple Cinema display. I found out soon after I purchased
it that it really needs RAM. I got one of the new Intel machines.
Some of the software I use has not yet been optimized for the Intel
core so it runs in emulation mode. This slows some programs down.
One program specifically, Firefox, does not yet have an Intel version.
They do have an Intel beta that I hear is not too bad.

I bought 2GB of RAM for it but it did not work in the machine. I had
to send the RAM back and I am still waiting for replacement sticks to
arrive. The machine runs a little slow with only 512MB of RAM in it.
I was dissapointed that the new Intel Mac Mini uses shared video
memory. The old G4 mac mini models did not use shared memory. This
reduces my main memory and I just wonder how good it really is. Apple
says it is great because the system memory is DDR2 running at 667MHz.
I have not had any problems with it but I haven’t really played any
games or anything on it.

I had to get one of those white keyboards to go with the mac mini
because they look sweet. I also wanted to have the special mac keys.
I was going to sell my G4 cube to Richard but he did not buy it so I
guess I really did not need a new keyboard. I had a mac keyboard with
the G4 cube. Oh well. The cube still runs fine and it has Tiger on
it so I will use it someday or find someone who wants to buy it.

Mac Handwriter

Last week I picked up a Mac Handwriter. It is a tablet for the mac
but it is quite old. I did not have the stylus but I was told the one
from my other tablet would work. It uses PS/2 ports so I had to get
an adapter for it. The tablet was $3.00 at Goodwill and the adapter
was $4.00 on eBay.

I guess I will know in a few days if it will work or not.

Disproportionate Apple Mac use from foreigners in Japan

It is really interesting to see how many people have macs here. Macintosh computers are really popular among the foreign ex-patriots, students, and teachers. I figured after I met the first one that I would not meet many more but there are actually a number of people living in my apartment complex who brought macs with them rather than PCs. One of my students saw that I had a mac and asked me if Macs were more popular than PCs in the US because he noticed so many people from the US with Macs. I told him that they only made up about 2-3% of computer sales and that I was just as confused about it as he is.

Apple Browser support

I was sad because gmail does not support the old version of Safari (the web browser for mac) and the new version of Safari requires a newer version of the Macintosh operating system. Internet Explorer: Mac is not supported either. I heard that Mozilla Firefox supported gmail but I wondered if the Mac version did so I downloaded it and tried it last night. Sure enough, it worked just find and now I can check my gmail account using wireless networks near my building. The latest version of firefox is rather nice too. It has tabbed browsing. This is where multiple browsing windows can be condensed to a series of tabs at the top of the program. It was a feature that made me use the Opera browser for a while. You can even get mouse gestures another feature I liked in Opera through a download-able extension. I think I may switch to firefox on my PC too. *Justin: you might want to try it out.* Click to download it for PC. DOWNLOAD If you decide to use firefox and want to get the RSS for this blog, go to the Bookmarks menu and select ‘Manage Bookmarks’. Under the ‘File Menu’, select ‘New Live Bookmark’. Create a name for the Live Bookmark and add the URL specified in this old blog entry.