Security Firms Discover New Mac Ransomware, Spyware

Today’s topics include malware targeting Mac users, Illusive Networks’ new email data deception feature, signs Facebook is entering the internet television-streaming business and recent updates to Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

Although Windows remains the platform of choice for cyber-attackers, researchers at AlienVault and Fortinet have found two new malware-as-a-service threats aimed at Mac users. The service threats were found on the dark web.

One is described as spyware-as-a-service and the other focuses on ransomware. Each threat is appropriately named. MacSpy uses Tor for communications, records keystrokes and audio, and can capture a screenshot every 30 seconds.

MacRansom does much the same, in addition to encrypting a victim’s files in a ransomware-as-a-service model. Aamir Lakhani, senior cyber-security researcher and practitioner with Fortinet and FortiGuard Labs, told eWEEK the attacks are indicative of a trend targeting Mac users.

“Although market share is still small, hackers know that there is valuable data on the Mac. This has led to development of more Mac hacking tools,” he said.

Fake emails have long been the domain of hackers, but Illusive Networks is turning the tables. The deceptive technology vendor’s latest feature will place fake information in corporate mail systems in a bid to trick and trap attackers.

Illusive Networks’ core deception platform provides different types of misleading network and application paths and information in a bid to detect malicious actors.

"We are expanding on our vision of putting deceptions everywhere," Ofer Israeli, founder and CEO of Illusive Networks, told eWEEK in an exclusive interview.

"What we set out to do with the company was to put deceptions in any piece of information that an attacker might look at to enhance their view of an organization."

For some time Facebook has been watching from the sidelines as the major players jump into the internet television-streaming business.

However, it appears now the social networking giant is moving resources into the market. Facebook recently picked up a television show canceled by MTV, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

If Facebook closes the deal on "Loosely Exactly Nicole," from Nicole Byer, creator of the popular "Girl Code" show, MTV will not be involved. There have been reports Facebook was eyeing internet streaming for months.

Back in March the social network was reportedly seeking two kinds of content for its original-video launch: fully owned paid TV-quality series that would cost $250,000 or more per episode, and shorter-form series that would resemble more of a licensing deal using revenue splits.

Microsoft continues to bring new features to its Power BI Desktop. The Windows client software is used to create reports with the Power BI business intelligence and analytics cloud service and this month received several updates.

Those updates are significant, according to John Doyle, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft. One, a “what if” feature, allows authors to create reports that end users can then further explore by adjusting certain parameters.

Another feature—Quick Insights—automatically creates new visualizations on data sets, helping answer questions users may not know to ask and offering organizations different, potentially insightful perspectives on their data. Power BI Desktop is a free download, but Microsoft may charge for use in corporate settings or advanced functionality.