Apple target of ransomware for first time

By Shawn Price   |   March 7, 2016 at 7:13 AM
| License Photo

CUPERTINO, Calif., March 7 (UPI) -- Apple's security team was able to block further attacks after its computers became the target of a so-called "ransomware" virus for the first time last week.

The type of virus, known as "ransomware," is designed to lock users out of their computer files until they pay a ransom. For the first time, Apple devices were the target.

Macs were hit late last week with "KeRanger" malware that demanded owners pay up to $400 in bitcoin for their files to be unencrypted.

The virus was hidden in a popular software called Transmission, which transfers data on BitTorrent. Once downloaded, it waits three days before beginning to encrypt or lock away photos, videos, documents or various user files.

"Ransomware" typically targets computers running Windows, but experts believe it is the first time Apple has been the target of a "randomware" attack. Such schemes have been around for at least a decade, but have been on the rise the past few years and are increasingly targeting bigger companies.

Once the virus was detected, Transmission alerted people on its website that anyone who downloaded version 2.90 should immediately upgrade to 2.92.

Apple also revoked the certificate after being alerted to the attack and updated its XProtect antivirus engine.

Though there is little defense against ransomware, experts recommend frequently backing up files with an isolated system to protect them from infection.

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