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Mac Users Hit by Rare Ransomware Attack, Spread via Transmission BitTorrent App

Mac owners who use the open source Transmission BitTorrent client are being warned that a version of the installer was distributed via the app’s official website, infected with a new family of ransomware.

It is believed that hackers managed to compromise the installer of Transmission version 2.90 on its download site on Saturday, March 4, in order to spread ransomware that researchers at Palo Alto Research have dubbed “KeRanger.”

The outcome is that if you were unfortunate enough to install Transmission 2.90 onto your Mac, your computer may now be the digital equivalent of ticking time bomb. Because KeRanger waits three days before awaking, encrypting your documents and data files, contacting its command-and-control servers, and demanding a one bitcoin (approximately $400) ransom be paid for your data’s safe return.

Ransomeware has plagued Windows users for years, but this is the first time it’s been seen in the wild and affected Macs. You’re only affected if you downloaded this specific version from the Transmission website, not if you used the in-app updater.

Source: Mac Users Hit by Rare Ransomware Attack, Spread via Transmission BitTorrent App | The Mac Security Blog

One screen or two: Why it’s better (or worse) to have multiple displays on your Mac

If you work with multiple applications on your Mac, you find yourself confronted with managing many windows. Most people use a single Mac and struggle to organize their windows, but some people use their Mac with a second (or even a third) display.

Macworld contributors Rob Griffiths and Kirk McElhearn have different approaches to wrangling all those windows. Rob uses two displays, and Kirk uses one, leveraging Spaces to keep his apps under control. Here’s how they each manage apps and windows.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

My 10 Essential Mac Utilities

Whenever I set up a new Mac, I install a number of utilities that make me more productive, that save me time, or that protect my data. I bought a new MacBook recently, and, as with every Mac, I installed some essential utilities. I’ve been using some of these apps for many years; others are recent additions to my roster of essential software. Here’s a look at my 10 essential Mac utilities.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

Google Employee Reviews USB-C Cables on Amazon to Warn about Faulty Cables

If you have a new MacBook, you have probably bought a USB-C cable. That’s the new connector that only the MacBook – at least for Apple’s products – uses. But Google’s Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C tablet also use this connector, and an engineer who works on these products has been reviewing cables on Amazon.com.

Benson Leung has so far reviewed 14 such cables, and he explains, for the bad ones, that:

This cable does not correctly follow the USB Type C specification Release 1.1. […]

Specifically, using this charging cable, the Chromebook Pixel and other USB Type-C devices will attempt to draw 3A of current over the cable, potentially damaging the USB hub or charger on the A side, which is not guaranteed to be rated at 3A.

He concludes his reviews of the bad cables by saying:

For consumers, I do not recommend buying this cable, as it may cause damage to your charger, hub, or PC USB ports.

Not all cables are bad. For example, a Belkin cable meets the requirements. Leung says:

Belkin’s USB Type-C to USB Type-A Charge and Data cable is excellent. This cable meets the USB Type C Specification, […]

This cable as as good as the ones that Apple and Google provide with and sell on their stores as accessories. The one downside is that the cable is $19.99, which is the same price as the Google one, for example. The advantage of Belkin, though, is that it is not perpetually sold out like the 1st party cables.

Buy this cable if you want a reliable cable that is practically the same as a 1st party cable from Google or Apple.

So if you do plan to buy a USB-C cable, check out these reviews first.

Why, Exactly, is Apple’s New Magic Trackpad So Expensive?

I got Apple’s new Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard yesterday, and I wrote my first impressions. I like the keyboard a lot, but I really don’t like the trackpad, and I’m planning to return it. It’s too wide, the Force Touch feature is useless, and it’s way too expensive. ($129 in the US; £109 here.) That’s 11% of the price of the base iMac ($1099).

But why, exactly, is it so expensive? What’s so special about it? Part of the cost is clearly the large rechargeable battery the device contains, but paying twice the price to avoid using my own replaceable batteries makes no sense. Yes, trackpads eat up batteries very quickly; I generally get 3-4 weeks of use with mine, compared to several months with the wireless keyboard.

Is it the Force Touch technology? If so, then it’s simply wasted. I quickly found that Force Touch gets invoked when I manipulate items in the Finder (Command-click one item, then the next, and drag them; Quick Look pops up). If I were to keep this trackpad, I’d have to turn that feature off, since I often click and drag items in the Finder.

So why is it expensive? I really don’t know. Some people will like the larger surface; I’ve found that even with the previous model, I only use about half of the surface. (I use the trackpad by manipulating with my first two fingers on the right side of the pad, so my third and fourth fingers can rest on my desk. Otherwise, those fingers cause confusion on the trackpad.)

I do appreciate the trackpad not being as deep; it matches the depth of the new keyboard, which is more than enough to perform almost any gesture on the device. But the width is just overkill.

Unless there’s some hidden feature in the new Magic Trackpad, it’s an overpriced device, poorly designed, which isn’t at all practical.

Note: As my friend Rob Griffiths has pointed out, the Magic Trackpad – as well as the new Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard – comes with a lightning cable, which Apple sells for $19. (You can, of course, get third-party cables much cheaper). But this does explain part of the price difference between the original Magic Trackpad and the new model. The battery is also part of the price, but it’s still a big jump to go from $79 to $129.