Mac users have until now been secure in the knowledge that Apple devices are unable to be infected with problematic ransomware viruses. Researchers from Palo Alto Networks told Reuters (business and financial news publication) on Sunday of Apple customers being targeted by hackers over the weekend. This is the first campaign against Macintosh computers using ransomware, a harmful yet subtle software. The malicious software is designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

CRN reported that “Ransomware, one of the fastest-growing types of cyber threats, encrypts data on infected machines, then typically asks users to pay ransoms in hard-to-trace digital currencies to get an electronic key so they can retrieve their data. Security experts estimate that ransoms total hundreds of millions of dollars a year from such cyber criminals, who typically target users of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Palo Alto threat intelligence director Ryan Olson said the ‘KeRanger’ malware, which appeared on Friday, was the first functioning ransomware attacking Apple’s Mac computers. “This is the first one in the wild that is definitely functional, encrypts your files and seeks a ransom,” Olson said”.

This first outbreak was caused by an infected bit torrent client, a popular service used to download pirated movies/music. Potentially not a risk for most business customers, noteworthy nonetheless, especially as it is becoming more common for staff to bring their own devices to work. This could compromise your company if the correct measures aren’t in place to protect data and devices.

We recommend that companies look at a strategy to protect their Apple devices now that it is confirmed that Apple are being targeted by hackers, as a precaution.