Ransomware!

In just a bit I'll be riding my bicycle down to a couple of places and turning in these cover letter things, but until then, I'm drinking a second cup of coffee.

An interesting thing came to my attention a few months ago in regards to the, seemingly popular, trend of 'ransomware.' Ransomware, as you may know, is malicious software which is generally installed on a computer through social engineering, or subterfuge. After installation, the ransomware will encrypt personal files, and demand a payment to decrypt your files, or you will face file deletion. They may do a lot more, but this isn't about the details. You can read more here: Ransomware.

Anyway, what I found out about ransomware, is that I may have almost been a victim of it. I didn't click some weird flashing banner ad, or download a bunch of keygens. I updated the torrent program, Transmission, which is a well known torrent client for OS X. For years it has been installed on my laptop, and used to download Linux ISOs(don't start), but this update was special.

Two days after the update had been issued, Paloalto Networks reported that a new OS X ransomware had been detected in the 2.90 version of Transmission. I deleted it immediately, and ran every check I could to ensure I hadn't been hit by this KeRanger ransomware. I checked the likely portions of my filesystem where the program would have hid itself: nothing. I downloaded a scanner from a security research firm: nothing. I wasn't hit, which is good.

This is just an example to show that you're not safe on the internet, and you have to exercise caution, even with trusted sources. Be sure to scan your computers you guys. Obviously, malware scanning is always plays the role of catching up, so being vigilant is the best precaution you can take.

 

-conor