New ‘Turtle’ macOS Ransomware Analyzed

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
Several vendors on VirusTotal have detected a new ransomware dubbed Turtle which is capable of not only targeting Windows and Linux systems but also macOS. Cybersecurity researcher Patrick Wardle who analyzed this new strain, says that Turtle Ransomware is currently not sophisticated. The malware was developed in the Go programming language. Like any other ransomware, Turtle ransomware is designed to encrypt files. However, Wardle says the encryption key can be recovered and decrypting files is not difficult. Despite this, the malware has gained traction due to its targeting of macOS users.

Security Officer Comments:
As of writing Turtle ransomware has yet to be attributed to a known threat group. According to Wardle, various strings found in the ransomware have been written in Chinese, indicating that the actor is of Chinese origin. With Turtle ransomware being fairly new, the strain is still in its development phase. Although the ransomware is currently not sophisticated, the fact that it can target macOS systems is concerning, adding to the list of victims that can be potentially targeted.

Suggested Correction(s):
Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.

Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk- based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.

Test your incident response plan: There's nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?

Check Your Security Team's Work: Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.

Segment your networks: There's been a recent shift in ransomware attacks – from stealing data to disrupting operations. It's critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.

Train employees: Email remains the most vulnerable attack vector for organizations. Users should be trained how to avoid and spot phishing emails. Multi Factor authentication can help prevent malicious access to sensitive services.