Internet security experts are warning of new Mac-targeting viruses available for sale on the darknet.
Macransom Is Available for Purchase on the Darknet – Leading to Concerns About the Potential for the Virus to Spread Rapidly
Bitcoin-based ransomware viruses have gained international attention following the devastating results of the Wannacry ransomware last month. Wannacry infected thousands of businesses spanning across approximately 100 nations, and including a devastating attack on the British NHS.
Last week, researchers at Fortinet publicized the new virus, Macransom, a ransomware program that exclusively targets Apple systems. If a system is infected, Macransom will encrypt the contents of a user’s computer, and threaten to delete such if a ransom of 0.25 bitcoins is not paid. Although not as sophisticated as Wannacry, Macransom is available for purchase on the darknet – leading to concerns about the potential for the virus to spread rapidly.
Macransom is available for purchase alongside other malicious software such as Macspy, a highly concerning spyware virus that members of the cryptocurrency community should be aware of. Macspy allows scammers to monitor an infected computer, capture passwords and other private information through keystroke logging, and even record audio via an infected computer’s microphone. Macspy also claims to be untraceable, owing to use of The Onion Router to mask communications.
These Apple-Targeting Viruses Emphasize the Need for Mac Users to Exercise Caution Online
These apple-targeting viruses emphasize the need for Mac users to exercise caution online. Although it is true that the majority of malicious software targets Windows systems, Fortinet security experts Rommel Joven and Wayne Chin Yick Low dispelled the popular misconception that Apple products are inherently more secure than Windows systems in a recent interview with Daily Mail UK. “Many Mac OS users might assume that their computer is exempt from things like ransomware attacks and think that their system is somehow essentially ‘secure’. It is true that it’s less likely for a Mac OS user to be attacked or infected by malware than a Windows user, but this has nothing to do with the level of vulnerability in the operating system.”
Bitcoin has driven rapid advancements in the innovation and sophistication of many industries. Unfortunately, malicious viruses have been one of the industries to benefit from cryptocurrency technology. Ransomware software existed before bitcoin, the ability for law enforcement to police such has been made far more difficult by bitcoin, as evidenced by the Zeus virus’ evolution. Originally reliant upon a transnational money smuggling ring in order to courier ransoms back to Eastern Europe, the virus Zeus has become far less traceable since adopting its current cryptolocker incarnation.
Despite the potential damage that can be reaped by bitcoin-based ransomware, the challenges posed by such can often easily be circumvented by exercising a stringent cyber security policy.
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