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Bogus Bitcoin Tip Targets Gullible Mac Owners

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 15 comments
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Some pranksters over at the online message board 4Chan have been spreading a rumor that Apple computers have a secret built-in Bitcoin-mining feature. Their instructions for accessing this "feature," however, will do serious harm to your computer.

Bitcoin is an online, independent currency which can be created, or "mined," using special software. The value of one Bitcoin (1BTC) has risen drastically since the network was first established in 2009, and now hovers around $1,000.

MORE: 7 Ways to Lock Down Your Online Privacy

For that reason, and because of the highly secure, anonymous way in which Bitcoins can be bought, sold and traded, the currency has become increasingly popular.

Clearly, some 4chan users are preying on that popularity with this malicious new prank.

A graphic circulating on the Internet claims that Apple has included software for mining Bitcoin in "all their products" since 2009. To unlock this feature, the graphic claims, simply open up the command line — called the Terminal on Apple computers — and type in this code: sudo rm –rf/*

Do NOT try this out on your home machine. Not only is Apple's "secret Bitcoin mining software" a lie, but "sudo rm –rf/*" is a known piece of code: When typed on any computer with a Unix-based operating system (which includes Mac OS X), it's an instruction to delete all files and folders on the computer on which it is typed.

That piece of code doesn't work on Windows machines, but security blogger and expert Graham Cluley says Windows users should still be wary.

"It's easy to imagine how a similar hoax could be spread targeting gullible Windows users," he warns on his blog.

The 4chan message board is known for originating malicious pranks such as this one, which don't actually benefit the pranksters and seem engineered just to get a laugh at someone else's expense.

Just last week, a similar prank circulated, this time targeting Xbox One users: Someone forged a graphic with instructions that, it claimed, would make the Xbox One backward-compatible (i.e., it would let users play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One).

In reality, following the instructions will break the Xbox One console, rendering it inoperable.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , December 16, 2013 10:34 AM
    I have little sympathy for anyone who believed this to be true.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , December 16, 2013 10:34 AM
    I have little sympathy for anyone who believed this to be true.
  • 1 Hide
    bombebomb , December 16, 2013 10:39 AM
    Tried it on my Ipad, it self destructed when I tried to open a command prompt.
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    Jack Revenant , December 16, 2013 10:40 AM
    Oh 4chan...

    I actually saw this one in the works myself, though I rather doubted (and still do) that anyone will buy into it. That said, /b/ did actually manage to get some poor gullible fellow to delete system32 once, so anything's possible, I suppose.
  • -1 Hide
    phatboe , December 16, 2013 11:03 AM
    As someone who is used to the *nix command line and is a GNU/Linux user myself. I instantly knew what this command would do.
  • 0 Hide
    ap3x , December 16, 2013 11:36 AM
    yea me too. Kind of messed up. I hope not to many people actually fell for this.
  • 3 Hide
    NightLight , December 16, 2013 11:49 AM
    they're mac owners, they are by definition gullible...
  • 1 Hide
    dalethepcman , December 16, 2013 11:50 AM
    Anyone that knows what bitcoin mining is, should know what sudo, and rm -rf/* does. (super user do, remove all files, recursive run, no prompt)

    Additionally since most mac non techie users don't seem to believe in security and have their passwords blanked the sudo commands doesn't work.

    I do find this quite comical though.
  • 2 Hide
    ubercake , December 16, 2013 12:02 PM
    Do we think people paying a 400% markup for their status symbol hardware are going to care? Erasing everything gives them the perfect excuse to buy the latest model. Problem solved.
  • 0 Hide
    ap3x , December 16, 2013 12:44 PM
    How do you guys equate the cost of a computer to weather or not they understand or would fall for something like this? Perhaps people are able to and are willing to pay for something they prefer to use. Does not make them gullible in the least. Just that they are willing to pay for their preference, informed or not. The % of uninformed Mac users vs PC users might surprise you though. Most consumers just buy what is cheapest and could care less about the technical details. They look at computers like toasters and call their monitor the computer and the computer the CPU or a hard drive. I bet everyone on this site knows a few people like that.

    Dalethepcman is right though. They should know what sudo and rm -rf /* if they understand what BitCoin mining is at all. Then again, BitCoin seems to be more and more press lately so it is just a matter of time and a basic Google search for someone to read enough to be interested and would fall for this sort of thing.
  • -9 Hide
    Rhinofart , December 16, 2013 1:42 PM
    I don't give a crap what the Mac haters think. I have several Macs, and a couple dedicated windows boxes. I bought a 17" MBP that I use for just about everything. I triple boot it. (Mac OS X for my DJing, and music production because it's stable, and has never crashed on me. EVER!), Kali Linux for my sec, and Pen Testing, and Windows 7 for my other day job. Hands down the best laptop I've ever owned. Only laptop I can use pretty much anywhere. Take your little $400 Acer laptop, and lay it down on a nice comfy pillowtop mattress when you are away from home, working in your hotel room just chillin on the bed after spinning a 5 hour set in the club. Watch it overhead in 2 minutes. The design that went into my MBP alone is worth my spending just shy of 5g on it. 16 Gb RAM, Quad i7, and a 512Gb SSD. But haters will be haters. They just hate because they are ignorant.They are ignorant because they choose not to try something else.
  • 1 Hide
    lamorpa , December 16, 2013 1:47 PM
    Is there some other kind of (non-gullible) Mac owner?
  • -1 Hide
    otacon , December 16, 2013 3:42 PM
    @ubercake

    Come back when you actually know what you're talking about.
  • 0 Hide
    Pyree , December 16, 2013 4:15 PM
    The moderation team will keep an eye on the Mac forum now in case there is a sudden influx of Mac users asking for help.
  • 2 Hide
    eriko , December 17, 2013 2:15 AM
    @Rhinofart, nice comparing a premium Mac product to a $400 Acer laptop. Well done. Nice and logical there.

    And as someone whom prefers Windows, I do it for good reason, I choose to be in the 90% of computer user group, not the 9%, thanks.

    Nobody at work ever handed me software to login to a Network Element, and said, oh, by the way, this is Mac only...

    The Acer I'm typing on now is i7 Extreme etc...But I don't try to compare it to a $400 version.

    Ignorance, seems to be your issue pal.

    A DJ AND a Pen-tester...hmmm which career is not working out for you there? Success in EITHER field would result in more money that it would be worth the trouble holding down to completely diverse occupations...

    I suspect local DJ, Pen-tester in the mind.
  • 0 Hide
    DragonChase , December 17, 2013 6:13 AM
    Quote:
    @Rhinofart, nice comparing a premium Mac product to a $400 Acer laptop. Well done. Nice and logical there.

    And as someone whom prefers Windows, I do it for good reason, I choose to be in the 90% of computer user group, not the 9%, thanks.

    Nobody at work ever handed me software to login to a Network Element, and said, oh, by the way, this is Mac only...

    The Acer I'm typing on now is i7 Extreme etc...But I don't try to compare it to a $400 version.

    Ignorance, seems to be your issue pal.

    A DJ AND a Pen-tester...hmmm which career is not working out for you there? Success in EITHER field would result in more money that it would be worth the trouble holding down to completely diverse occupations...

    I suspect local DJ, Pen-tester in the mind.


    LOLLL!!
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