Palo Alto Networks researchers have revealed KeRanger ransomware targeted Mac users this weekend for the first time, realizing Bitdefender’s predictions about ransomware’s expansion to new operating systems in 2016.
Experts say some Macs may have had files encrypted on Monday if infected, according to The Guardian. Ryan Olson, threat intelligence director at Palo Alto, said KeRanger malware, which appeared on Friday 4 March, was the first functioning ransomware to attack Apple’s Mac computers.
“This is the first one in the wild that is definitely functional, encrypts your files and seeks a ransom,” Olson said in a telephone interview with Reuters, cited by The Guardian. An Apple representative said the company had taken steps over the weekend to prevent attacks by revoking a digital certificate from a legitimate Apple developer that enabled the rogue software to install on Macs.
Ransomware for Mac was seen as a major threat in the top predictions list in cybersecurity for 2016 by Bitdefender CTO Bogdan Dumitru.
“We’ve already seen ransomware for Linux, Windows and Android. Mac OS is just around the corner,” he said in December 2015. “It targets both consumers and companies, and the 2016 versions not only will encrypt files and ask for ransom, but will also make all documents available on the internet if ransom is not paid. In an ironic twist, the victim will be able to recover encrypted files – when they are uploaded on the internet for public shaming.”
“Ransomware has probably been the largest unresolvable threat to Internet users ever since 2014, and it will remain one of the most important drivers of cybercrime in 2016,” Bitdefender noted. “While some operators will prefer the file encryption approach, some more innovative groups will focus on developing ‘extortionware’ (malware that blocks accounts on various online services or that expose data stored locally to everybody on the Internet). Throughout 2016, file-encrypting ransomware will most likely expand to Mac OS X as well.”
Last year, reports show millions of users fell victim to CryptoWall version 3.0 (and many go unreported), adding over $350 million to cyber-criminals’ bank accounts.
Security solutions, such as Bitdefender’s Antivirus for Mac, provide absolute protection against new and unknown threats without slowing down your Mac. AV for Mac connects to Bitdefender’s advanced Cloud-based technologies to instantly detect and block threats, regardless of where in the world they are born.