Mac malware Eleanor hijacks your local files and email

Malicious code masquerades as file converter

Cyber security skull

New Mac malware that locks people's files and recruit their laptops for botnets has been discovered by cybersecurity researchers.

The malware, known as Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor', was uncovered by Bitdefender, and it is the second bug found to specifically target the Mac OS X  the first being KeRanger ransomware, which was discovered in March.

Bitdefender found Eleanor available on the busy software portal, MacUpdate, masquerading as a free app called EasyDoc Converter'. It claimed to convert a user's FreeOffice and SimpleStats docs to Microsoft Office (.docx) files, but performed no such action when it was run.

Instead, it offered hackers a way to blackmail users and take control of their devices.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"This type of malware is particularly dangerous as it's hard to detect and offers the attacker full control of the compromised system," said Tiberius Axinte, technical leader of Bitdefender Antimalware Lab.

"For instance, someone can lock you out of your laptop, threaten to blackmail you to restore your private files or transform your laptop into a botnet to attack other devices."

MacUpdate has since blocked the software on its site. Also, the app has not been issued with a certificate assigned to a registered Apple developer. For Mac users, this means it will be slightly tougher for them to be exposed to the malware, as, by default, Mac OS X does not open or install uncertified apps. However, committed users can bypass the security measure.

When the app is run, it first checks for the presence of online check-in masker, Little Snitch. If this app is not found, it then downloads malicious code onto the user's computer.

The malware installs three Mac LaunchAgents in the user's home folder, as well as a hidden folder with executable files.

The LaunchAgents files are named as Dropbox fragments, and include:

Advertisement - Article continues below





Advertisement - Article continues below

The three LaunchAgents files activate a Tor hidden service, a web service and a Pastebin agent, according to Bitdefender.

The Pastebin agent lists a victim's Tor address to the Pastebin text repository, where it could be retrieved by attackers.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Hackers using the Eleanor malware can access a computer's file system and administrator database, remotely execute script, and hijack email and email attachments.

Bitdefender's report claims the first upload to Pastebin by this malware occurred on 19 April the malware appears to have been listed on MacUpdate since 16 March.

Advice from cybersecurity firms is to download applications from reputable websites or directly from the developer, and avoid old or abandoned apps.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now



Hackers abuse LinkedIn DMs to plant malware

25 Feb 2019

Best free malware removal tools 2019

23 Dec 2019

Best antivirus for Windows 10

3 Sep 2019

Most Popular

data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Microsoft Windows

Memes and Viking funerals: The internet reacts to the death of Windows 7

14 Jan 2020

Openreach offers free full-fibre installation for thousands of homes

14 Jan 2020