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Security & privacy

Frightening new ransomware attacking Macs

Mac users have plenty of reasons to feel confident in their computers. They’re sleek, fast and feature excellent hardware and software design. But above all else, Mac users love the peace of mind that comes with how malware-resistant these computers are.

But are Macs really all that virus-proof? While the market share for Macs is too small for most serious malware developers to care about, incidents of Mac-targeted malware have actually increased in recent months. Tap or click here to find out if your computer is safe enough.

As safe as Apple products have been for some time, those days may be numbered thanks to the threat of a newly discovered malware tailored specifically for Macs. This frightening program combines the worst of ransomware and spyware into one formidable package. Here’s what you can do to keep it away from your system.

ThiefQuest: Much worse than your average malware

Ransomware and spyware are two categories of malware that lock up your files and watch what you do, respectively. Once installed, they can cost thousands of dollars to fix and can lead to complications like identity theft and lost data.

So, when word gets out that a new breed of malware is combining both functions into one package, it’s no wonder that security researchers are sounding the alarm.

According to reports from K7 Lab, a Mac-exclusive malware dubbed “ThiefQuest” has begun to circulate around online piracy websites and digital download repositories. This malware, once installed, is capable of running a hybrid payload that will not only lock up your files but spy on your internet activity.

It even includes a keylogger so it can steal passwords and credit card numbers! Tap or click here to see how to check your PC or Mac for the presence of keyloggers.

Given how rare Mac malware tends to be, the fact that this new program escalates the threat ecosystem so drastically is significant. To make matters worse, the K7 researchers also believe that the ransomware component of the malware is “incomplete at this time,” due to its shoddy payment-processing system.

More likely than not, this malware was designed to be spyware first and foremost, with the ransomware payload added as a last-minute backup plan to score some easy money.

On a positive note, the sloppy design of this program effectively rules out nation-state hackers. This means defeating it will be much less time-consuming and difficult.

How can I avoid getting pwned by ThiefQuest?

As scary as this new ransomware is, you can stay safe by simply avoiding the primary vector for infection: Torrenting websites.

Torrenting is a type of digital download that uses peer-to-peer software that uploads and downloads data at the same time. This can make it more difficult for copyright holders to outright trace piracy, and it’s the reason torrent files are the most common way movies are pirated. Tap or click here to see more on torrenting, and other cybersecurity risks to avoid.

Most importantly, as always, avoid opening email attachments or clicking links from unknown senders. This is the easiest way for hackers to spread malware to new hosts, and if you avoid taking the bait, you won’t run into any trouble.

That said, in the event that the malware does make its way on to your system, a solid anti-malware program should get you fixed right up. Tap or click here to see our favorite online malware scanners and security programs.

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