First Mac-Targetting Ransomware Appears in the Wild

Despite the rising amount of ransomware attacks recently, Apple’s Mac OSX has so far remained unaffected by it. Unfortunately, for Mac-users, security firm Palo Alto Networks announced on Sunday that it had discovered the world’s first ransomware that is aimed at OSX computers. Now named “KeRanger”, the malware was discovered through a rogue version of the popular Transmission BitTorrent client.

KeRanger was first noticed on Saturday on the Transmission forums, where some users posted unusual reports that copies of Transmission downloaded from the main site were infected with malware. This means that the Transmission site itself was compromised, as the KeRanger infected versions of the client were served over an HTTP connection instead of the usual HTTPS used for the remainder of the website. Transmission later published a message stating that: “Everyone running 2.90 on OS X should immediately upgrade to 2.91 or delete their copy of 2.90, as they may have downloaded a malware-infected file.”

When a computer is infected with the KeRanger ransomware, through installing a compromised version of Transmission, the installer runs an embedded executable file on the system. It then waits 3 days before connecting to its command and control (C2) servers over the Tor anonymizer network. From there, it begins the process of encrypting certain types of files and documents on the system before issuing a demand of one bitcoin (around $400) to a specific address in order to restore access to their files. The current version of KeRanger was also reported to still be under development, with future iterations of the malware potentially able to encrypt Time Machine backups too, in order to prevent restoration.

It was only a matter of time before ransomware came to the Mac, however, it is worrying how vulnerable usually trustworthy open source projects are to unwillingly carrying malware. While the infected version of Transmission has since been pulled from their site, if you believe you have been infected, Palo Alto Networks’ report includes steps on how to identify and remove KeRanger.

Which Companies Had The Most Security Vulnerabilities In 2015?

Cyber security is a hot topic and the rise of attacks which looks to exploit security flaws within a company’s software is becoming increasingly commonplace within the tech world. CVE Details have thus released its rundown of the most security vulnerabilities in a variety of software products for 2015 and it contains a top five that includes Mac OS X, iOS, Flash, Adobe Air and Air SDK.

Below is an image which details the number of vulnerabilities per software product, as you can see, the reports suggest that Mac OSX had a reported total of 384 vulnerabilities with IOS just slightly behind on 375, Adobe Flash player makes up the top 3 with 314 that have been officially disclosed. There is, however, one or two caveats behind these stats, for example, CVE Details Lists every version of Mac OSX as one entry, while the many multiple editions of Windows are listed separately, this means that while OSX is at the top, if you look down you will see Windows has a higher count of vulnerabilities when you take into account versions from Windows 8.1 all the way back to Vista etc.

The second image of the bar graph also conveys the vulnerabilities of the top 50 products by vendor, as you can see, Microsoft edges out Adobe while Apple is third.

In 2014 the list of the top five were IE browser, Mac OS X, Linux Kernel, Chrome and iOS, it is also worth noting that not every software company has the same policy when it comes to disclosing security vulnerabilities within their software. 

Image courtesy of businesscomputingworld

The Underbelly of Red Star OS Reveals Tracking Features

Red Star OS was revealed in early 2015 as North Korea’s operating system after it was snuck back to the states by ex-google employee Will Scott. Since then the operating system has been under investigation and most recently a pair of german researchers have released their information regarding the operating system.

While the operating system may look like a copy of Mac OS X this seems to just be a fancy skin that does nothing more than conceal the Fedora Linux base that the system is built upon. While an open source operating system at heart, Fedora has been modified with several pieces of technology that are made to help track potential security risks from the country.

Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of the German IT security company ERNW GmbH revealed some interesting information regarding their “marking” tactics. The specifics of this watermarking tactic means that every document located within the computer is watermarked, including devices that are temporarily connected to the system, such as by a USB stick. While this may seem like a good idea this applies to all files and is “done stealthily and touches files you haven’t even opened”.

The operating system also includes heavily locked down settings, meaning that even trying to alter things such as virus checkers or firewalls results in either an error message or an instant reboot.

Visual Studio 2015 Now Supports All Major Apple and Android Devices

If you’re a fan of programming here’s some news you may like. Ahead of the release date for their new operating system Microsoft have released Visual Studio 2015, their programming development environment.

With a list of languages supported straight out of the box such as; C#, C++, Java, JavaScript and SQL amongst the list of initial languages you can already see how this development environment will become a go-to for a lot of developers. Alongside the initial languages it is also possible to get the Android SDK and Xamarin libraries during installation, meaning that not only are Windows and PC’s supported but any Apple or Android devices can also be developed using the IDE (integrated development environment).

The one feature missing that is quite noticeable is the lack of Windows 10 Universal App support. The apps which are said to be better supported and more “universal” than those from the Windows 8.1 platform won’t be released until the operating system is released on the 29th July.

If you are looking at developing Android applications in Visual Studio you now have access to an android emulator which can run everything from Jelly Bean and KitKat to Lollipop. If you want to try your hand at Apple thought you will still need a Xamarin license, and access to a machine running OS X in order to run the compilers needed.

For those who like working in groups or on open source projects, the GIT support has been enhanced with better visual representations of everything from branches to commit history.

As a former Visual Studio user I can see myself returning (stopped using the IDE because I was working on languages other than .Net), and with these new features it seems Microsoft are keen on getting Visual Studio as the number one IDE for developers for any platform.

If you’re interested, the community version can be downloaded for free from here.

Thank you ArsTechnica for the information.

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

 

Apple Reveals Purpose of Camera Vans in California

Have you seen those mysterious Apple vans cruising around the California area? The camera-equipped vans have been the focus of speculation for a while now. Are they for mapping, self-driving cars, or perhaps something else altogether? If you guessed mapping, give yourself a cookie!

Apple has revealed their vans are gathering images and data for use in an Apple street mapping app. The vehicles are set to take street-level images and data for Apple Maps for both iOS and OS X, as an obvious direct competitor to Google Maps and their Street View service.

“We are committed to protecting your privacy while collecting this data,” Apple said in the notice. “For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.”

While this doesn’t have anything to do with self-driving cars right now, it would come as no surprise if Apple also plan to use the data they gather for their self-driving car technology, much in the same way Google has done, but for now, it seems this will be limited to the mapping service. Can they really compete with Google Street View? That remains to be seen, but for Apple users, any improvement to the mapping services offered is no bad thing.

Apple’s mapping vans are set to hit the streets of Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington State. In the UK, Essex, Greater London, Kent, and Birmingham. Finally, in Ireland, the greater Dublin area.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Apple Moves Closer to the Gaming Market

We know that Apple’s hardware, especially its OS X operating system, was not designed with gaming in mind. This is why gamers and developers alike chose Windows and its DirectX when it comes to graphics, but Apple seems to want a piece of the gaming market too and this was clearly shown today at their Worldwide Developer Conference.

If you are familiar with last year’s WWDC, then you know all about the company’s Metal API. If you don’t, then you should know that the latter is Apple’s gaming platform previously announced for their iOS devices. However, this year the company wants to integrate it into their latest OS X too.

Dubbed El Capitan, Apple’s latest OS X 10.11 seems to move closer than ever to the gaming market, bringing 10x rendering performance compared to their previous OS X. To demonstrate El Capitan’s potential, they brought Epic Games to show everyone how gaming can be made possible on low-level graphics performance.

Also, Epic Games is not the only company to back Apple’s decision. Metal seems to be endorsed by other big name gaming companies such as 2K Games, Blizzard, and Unity. The companies have announced that they will be integrating Apple’s Metal API into their engines, which means we can look forward to more titles coming to Apple’s OS next year.

Than you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of iC

Apple Takes a Radical Approach with its Swift Programming Language

Apple just announced something really radical today at its Worldwide Developer Conference. We all now how strict and closed the company is with its software and hardware, but it looks like things are about to change and we might see them before the end of this year.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president, announced that the company will make their latest programming language, namely Swift, open source by the end of the year. This is quite surprising since the company enforced a strict closed box policy on their products up until now. So why the change of heart?

Nonetheless, Federighi said that the compiler code and libraries for iOS and OS X will be made available to everyone and it looks like they are planning to go even further and release the latter for Linux as well. This means that developers will be able to program in Apple’s code on all major operating systems once the code gets released.

Don’t get too excited though. A similar promise was made by Steve Jobs in the past, who said that the company would deliver the FaceTime protocol to developers so they can integrate it into other software outside Apple’s own OS’. As you can imagine, the protocol is still not available, so take the recent information with a grain of salt until you actually see Swift’s code available for download.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Windows XP Has More Users than Windows 8.x, Not Bad for an OS That Is 14 Years Old

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there are still many people using Windows XP. Though, it may be surprising to learn that the desktop market share of the 14 year old OS has more market share than the recent Windows 8 versions (Win 8/ Win 8.1).

According to Net Application’s collected data Windows 8.x ended March with 14.07% of the market share for desktops. Windows XP ended the month with 16.94%, beating Windows 8.x by 2.87%.  Going back to November 2014 Windows 8.x had a combined market share of 18.65% against XP at 13.57%. Surprisingly November 2014 was the only month that Win 8.x beat out XP. This is pretty surprising given that XP is no longer officially supported by Microsoft, with support having been ended a year ago. Could this be the reason for Microsoft saying that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade? It would be a safe bet just by looking at the numbers, and with Windows 10 actually looking pretty great, it is a win for everyone.

Source: Hot Hardware

New LastPass Mac App Announced

The people behind LastPass, the popular and free password generation software, have announced their new standalone Mac app. The app offers significantly more functionality than the browser version with a number of new features.

The app features a vault specifically for storing any sensitive information, from the usual passwords to credit cards and sensitive notes. It also comes with a feature called Securtity Check that allows users to check the strength of their passwords over time, allowing them to make sure whether each password is as strong as they can be.

There’s also a feature called Quick Search allowing users to search through pretty much everything in their vault, including specific logins for specific sites.

“The LastPass Mac App functions as a vault that safeguards sensitive information. It allows our customers to have convenient local access to their data, saving them the distraction of recalling passwords or manually typing in their login details.”  LastPass CEO and Co-Founder, Joe Siegrist

The app will available soon from the Mac App Store.

Source: MacRumors

Google Chrome Version 39 Releases with 64-bit OS X Support

We hope you Mac users are ready for some 64-bit software computations from Google! Google Chrome version 39 has released today, with the new update including a number of large features for desktop users across all major platforms. Mac OSX users will now have browser support for 64-bit, with Google Chrome now completely shifting to a 64-bit only variant on OSX.

On top of this, the 64-bit support includes a number of handy security and speed updates to the browser, with improved instruction sets, more registers and improved efficiency in function calling. Because most software already on the OSX platform is now already all 64-bit based, you should find that Chrome now boots faster on a Mac. Desktop users on Linux, Windows and OSX can download the new Google Chrome update through the browser’s built-in silent updater, or can head over to google.com/chrome to manually download the latest version. For a full list of updates that come apart of the Google Chrome 39, please see the full release available on Google’s update blog for the browser here.

 

Thanks to MacRumours for providing us with this information.

iOS 8.1.1 Brings Fixes For iPhone 4s and iPad 2

Apple released updates to both of its operating systems yesterday (Monday). The updates bring a number of bug fixes and tweaks that should solve a few of the usual teething problems a new OS brings.

For most iOS users, there won’t be much in the way of a difference, except for those using the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 – the two oldest devices capable of running the new version of iOS.

The release notes say that there are “increased stability and performance improvements” for the two ageing devices. These tweaks should be welcomed by those holding onto their 4s and iPad 2, as there have been a number of complaints concerning how sluggish the new OS can be on them.

On another related note, the company also released OS X Yosemite version 10.10.1 at the same time, bringing some fixes to WiFi issues some users were experiencing, among other smaller tweaks.

Source: TechCrunch

Apple Seeds Second Beta of OS X 10.10.1

Apple has delivered developers their next beta of OS X 10.10.1, build 14B17.

The beta is available through both the Mac App Store and the Mac Developer Center. Focus points for testers are again WI-Fi, Exchange E-Mail Accounts and Notification Center. I can also confirm that public beta testers have also received the new build, as pictured in the above screenshot from my MacBook Air. OS X Yosemite was released to the public last month to positive reviews, with praise for its simpler new design and handy integration with iOS through it’s Handoff feature.

Source: MacRumors

Wii U GamePad Reverse Engineered To Stream From PC

A few people have already been tinkering to use the Wii U GamePad as a PC controller, of could this doesn’t include the use of the screen, but the basic functionality such as face buttons, triggers and analogue sticks work just fine. But simply controlling a PC game with the cool Wii U tablet controller isn’t that much fun, an Xbox 360 controller does a much better job in that respect. A small team of hackers have pushed the controller even further in a new hack that allowed them to not only use the GamePad as a controller, but also allowed them to stream games to the screen, much in the same way that you can do with the Nvidia Shield.

The displayed their hack at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress, where they detailed how they broke through the firmware  and the peak of their efforts was to show a Gamecube emulated session of classic Zelda game Wind Waker on the Wii U GamePad. The software was a little buggy and did crash a few times, but overall worked pretty well as a proof of concept and the team say that their code is primarily aimed at developers. Now the group who to plan on new tools using the hack, building features that are compatible with Windows, OSX and Android, perhaps even using a standard Android tablet as a replacement Wii U controller by porting the firmware.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/m8YgVVtNRjg[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.