A recently detected ransomware virus has Creative Cloud users on alert. The virus impacts Apple Mac OS computer users, which are popular with creative professionals, by locking all files on the infected device. The files remain locked and unusable unless a ransom is paid, typically through an untraceable digital currency such as bitcoin. This requirement for payment to unlock the files gives this type of virus its name, as a ransom is paid in order to regain access to the files. As American Graphics Institute teaches Creative Cloud classes on Mac and Windows computers in our classrooms, we monitor items that can impact the health of these classroom computer systems. Windows systems are not impacted by this recent virus. 

While the virus hits Creative Cloud users on the Mac, this is more coincidental, as the malware locks all files on computers that are infected, regardless of the programs used on the computer. With many Mac OS users working in creative fields, the impact of the virus on Creative Cloud users is likely to be more pronounced. Files created using Adobe Creative Cloud applications such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are affected, as are those created using other tools such as Microsoft Office or even code editing utilities, personal photographs, and music collections.

How the Virus is being spread

The primary source to spread the virus has been an application known as Transmission, which is a program for sharing files via a torrent. The Transmission application itself was infected, and anyone downloading and installing the application was also installing the virus. According to security firm Palo Alto Networks, the virus remains dormant for several days before becoming active and locking user’s files. The delay may have been intended to make it more difficult to trace the source of the ransomware virus. Users who think they are getting free software, videos, or books instead end-up with all files on their Mac, including any Creative Cloud files, locked and inaccessible.

Avoiding the Virus: keeping Creative Cloud files safe

MacOS users can avoid the virus by not downloading software from websites that offer free software, pirated videos and books. The supposedly free computer programs or content being shared is a vehicle for injecting a virus into your computer. Using legitimate commercial services such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and B&N provides access to materials that are generally screened before they are allowed into distribution on their sites.