Menu
This tool can block ransomware on Mac OS X, for now

This tool can block ransomware on Mac OS X, for now

The RansomWhere? tool detects when ransomware programs start encrypting files and then blocks them

A security researcher has created a free security tool that can detect attempts by ransomware programs to encrypt files on users' Macs and then block them before they do a lot of damage.

Called RansomWhere? the application is the creation of Patrick Wardle, director of research and development at security firm Synack. It's meant to detect and block the encryption of files by untrusted processes.

The tool monitors users' home directories and detects when encrypted files are rapidly created inside them -- a telltale sign of ransomware activity.

When such activity is detected, RansomWhere? determines the process responsible and suspends it. To limit false positives -- legitimate encryption programs being detected as ransomware -- the tool whitelists all applications signed by Apple and most of those that already exist on the computer when RansomWhere? is first installed.

This means that in order to work as expected, the tool needs to be installed on computers that haven't already been infected with ransomware. The tool also won't work if any ransomware programs that later infect the computer hijack or inject code into Apple-signed applications and use them to encrypt files.

ransomwhere alert prompt Patrick Wardle

RansomWhere? alert prompt.

When RansomWhere? suspends an encryption process, it prompts the user to allow the operation to continue or to terminate it. This provides users with an opportunity to whitelist legitimate encryption programs they know and trust.

While good at blocking opportunistic ransomware attacks in general, RansomWhere? does not provide perfect protection, nor does it claim to have a 100 percent detection rate.

First of all, RansomWhere?'s blocking mechanism will only kick in after a ransomware program has encrypted a few files. Their number should be in the single digits, though.

"RansomWhere? was designed to generically stop OS X ransomware," Wardle said in a blog post. "However several design choices were consciously made -- to facilitate reliability, simplicity, and speed -- that may impact its protection capabilities. First, it is important to understand that the protections afforded by any security tool, if specifically targeted, can be bypassed. That is to say, if a new piece of OS X ransomware was designed to specifically bypass RansomWhere? it would likely succeed."

Until recently, ransomware creators have almost exclusively targeted Windows computers, but that has started to change. There are already ransomware variants that infect Linux-based Web servers, and researchers have created proof-of-concept ransomware programs for OS X to show the platform can be affected.

In February, malware researchers spotted a new ransomware program being sold on cybercriminal forums that had versions for both Windows and Mac. Then in March, Mac users were hit by KeRanger, the first ever OS X ransomware found in the wild.

As the competition among ransomware creators intensifies, many of them will likely to branch out to other platforms in search of new victims. Mac users are certainly an attractive target.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments