BUSINESS

First Known Ransomware Attack Against Apple Computers Uncovered

03/08/2016 08:55 EST | Updated 03/08/2016 08:59 EST

There's a class of cyber crime that essentially kidnaps your data and holds it for ransom.

And even Apple customers aren't safe anymore.

Security firm Palo Alto Networks reported Sunday that a form of ransomware had infected Transmission, a BitTorrent installer that works on the Apple operating system.

apple mac

In this Sept. 5, 2014 photo, the Apple logo hangs in the glass box entrance to the company's Fifth Avenue store, in New York. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)

This marked the first time that ransomware had successfully attacked Apple's Mac computers, Palo Alto's threat intelligence director Ryan Olson told Reuters.

Ransomware is a cyber threat that infects a system, encrypts its data and asks people to pay ransoms in order to retrieve it, Reuters reported.

Palo Alto discovered the threat, which it has dubbed "KeRanger," after attackers "infected two installers of Transmission version 2.90" on March 4.

"When we identified the issue, the infected DMG files were still available for downloading from the Transmission site," it said.

transmission

KeRanger managed to enter Apple's operating system after it bypassed Gatekeeper, a feature that protects users from malware.

The ransomware managed to maneuver around Gatekeeper because it had a Mac app development certificate.

KeRanger works by embedding itself in the Transmission apps, then waiting three days before encrypting data. It then demands that users pay one bitcoin (around C$550) to obtain their data again.

Apple has responded to the threat by revoking the app certificate, while Transmission has taken the infected installers off its site, Palo Alto said.

apple macbook

Those who downloaded Transmission 2.90 might have seen their data become inaccessible on Monday, he added.

A spokesperson for Apple responded by reiterating to various media that it had revoked the certificate associated with the infected BitTorrent installer.

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