In case you haven’t heard – the very first ransomware to successfully attack Mac has already surfaced the Web, spreading via the hacked Transmission BitTorrent client for Mac. The ransomware, dubbed KeRanger (Ransomware.OSX.KeRanger), has been identified as the very first completely functional ransomware targeting Mac users.
According to researchers at Palo Alto, the first infections took place on March 4. Apparently, someone, a cyber criminal, has hacked the official Transmission website and then replaced the legitimate client for Mac version 2.90 with a compromised one that contained KeRanger.
Ransomware.OSX.KeRanger– the Pioneer Ransomware for Mac Users
One may think that the very first functional Mac ransomware would have flaws or at least features that need improvement. However, researchers warn that KeRanger is as dangerous as the average ransomware written for the Windows operating system. To be more precise, KeRanger appears to be an excellent replica of both Windows and Linux malicious encryptors that have been infecting users on a global level.
KeRanger – Technical Review
The encryption algorithm used by KeRanger is AES. It is deployed against 300+ file extensions. Here are some of them:
- Documents: .doc, .docx, .docm, .dot, .dotm, .ppt, .pptx, .pptm, .pot, .potx, .potm, .pps, .ppsm, .ppsx, .xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .txt, .csv, .rtf, .tex
- Images: .jpg, .jpeg,
- Audio and video: .mp3, .mp4, .avi, .mpg, .wav, .flac
- Archives: .zip, .rar., .tar, .gzip
- Source code: .cpp, .asp, .csh, .class, .java, .lua
- Database: .db, .sql
- Email: .eml
- Certificate: .pem
Interestingly, the encryption process would start 3 days after the initial infection. What does this mean? Users that have downloaded the compromised Transmission BitTorrent around March 4 could still remove the ransomware before any of their data is encrypted.
Learn More about the AES Encryption Algorithm
The demanded ransom is estimated at 1 Bitcoin, or approximately $400. The payment should be made via the Dark Net, on a particular (.)onion website.
How to Remove KeRanger Ransomware from Infected Macs
An important remark to Mac users who have downloaded the Transmission installer directly from its official website after 11:00 AM PST on March 4 and before 7:00 PM PST on March 5: you are highly likely infected by KeRanger. Even in cases when the installer was downloaded from a third party websites or earlier than the specified time, you should consider checking your system for the ransomware. The only good news here is that older versions of Transmission seem to be spared.
Researchers at Palo Alto strongly advise following these steps to remove KeRanger:
- 1. Using either Terminal or Finder, check whether /Applications/Transmission.app/Contents/Resources/ General.rtf or /Volumes/Transmission/Transmission.app/Contents/Resources/ General.rtf exist. If any of these exist, the Transmission application is infected and we suggest deleting this version of Transmission.
- 2. Using “Activity Monitor” preinstalled in OS X, check whether any process named “kernel_service” is running. If so, double check the process, choose the “Open Files and Ports” and check whether there is a file name like “/Users/
/Library/kernel_service”. If so, the process is KeRanger’s main process. We suggest terminating it with “Quit -> Force Quit”.
- 3. After these steps, we also recommend users check whether the files “.kernel_pid”, “.kernel_time”, “.kernel_complete” or “kernel_service” existing in ~/Library directory. If so, you should delete them.
Has KeRanger Been Neutralized?
Luckily, yes. Apple has already neutralized the ransomware. At least for now things appear to be on the bright side. However, researchers say that KeRanger has features that are not yet completed. Simply said, the ransomware could come back, with new versions that implement those features. If (or when) finished, one specific component would target Time Machine files, which means that file recovery from older system backups won’t be possible.
Another notable, still characteristic observed in KeRanger would enable remote control, and thus would act exactly like a backdoor in a Windows system.
So, one crucial and logical question to be asked here is…
How Did KeRanger Bypass Apple’s GateKeeper?
Quite simple – by using a stolen certificate. Apple security experts have already revoked the certificate and have also updates the XProtect antivirus signature to protect users from falling victims to KeRanger in the near future. The open-source Transmission project has also removed the compromised binaries from their website. A new version for the Mac Client has been issued as well – version 2.92.
The conclusion? No operating system is safe from ransomware.
- Guide 1: How to Remove from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove
Step 2: Uninstall and related software from Windows
Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- Go to Finder.
- In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
- Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
- If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.
In case you cannot remove via Step 1 above:
In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Remove from Google Chrome.
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove from Safari.
Step 1: Start the Safari app.
Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.
Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the will be removed.
Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.
Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.