OS X Users Hit by Ransomware Websites Posing as FBI Notices

Malwarebytes takes a look at a method cyber-criminals have begun using to target Mac users with "ransomware", hijacking the user's browser with a notice demanding payment of $300 in order to release control of the application. While similar malware has affected Windows systems for a number of years, Mac users have only rarely seen such efforts targeted at themselves.

The ransomware page is being pushed onto unsuspecting users browsing regular sites but in particular when searching for popular keywords.

Warnings appearing to be from the FBI tell the victim: “you have been viewing or distributing prohibited Pornographic content.. To unlock your computer and to avoid other legal consequences, you are obligated to pay a release fee of $300.”

safari_fbi_ransomware
Rather than a sophisticated hijack of the actual browser software or an installation of a trojan, the ransomware is merely a simple webpage using JavaScript to load 150 iframes that require confirmation to be dismissed, with the authors hoping that users will give up long before they dismiss all of the dialog boxes and simply pay the ransom. As the report notes, a feature on OS X that reopens previously open windows after relaunching an app means that users generally can not simply close and reopen Safari in order to escape the ransomware.

The report details one method to escape the ransomware involving resetting Safari, but misses a far simpler tactic: Simply holding down the Shift key while relaunching Safari will prevent it from reopening windows and tabs from the previous session. Users can also completely disable the reopening feature across OS X from the General pane of System Preferences. Many OS X users may, however, be unfamiliar with such options and find themselves trapped by the ransomware webpage.


The report notes that the ransomware authors are targeting users based on popular search terms, with one example stumbled upon through an image search result for Taylor Swift on Bing.

Top Rated Comments

TsunamiTheClown Avatar
125 months ago
I have paid this ransom like 3 times today and still no sense of absolution.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
primalman Avatar
125 months ago
Who falls for a thing that says its the FBI and to pay a fine you use gas station money cards? Really?
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tiger8 Avatar
125 months ago
Only real stupid people would fall for that.

Unfortunately...


This is America so I wouldn't be surprised.

Why do you make such generalizations? Not everyone is computer Savy, there are some people in their 60s and 70s who 'barely' get by browsing the internet and checking email, and yea they bought Mac because it's easy. They are not real stupid, they are not dumb, they just don't know enough to know it's fake.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TMRaven Avatar
125 months ago
If the fbi finds out you're distributing child porn you're going to jail, not paying 300 dollars. Hahaha.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chumawumba Avatar
125 months ago
Only real stupid people would fall for that.

Unfortunately...


This is America so I wouldn't be surprised.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ravenvii Avatar
125 months ago
Who falls for a thing that says its the FBI and to pay a fine you use gas station money cards? Really?

You'd be surprised.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off)

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...