Secret Bitcoin mining hoax risks wiping Mac users’ data

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Everyone likes a laugh, but it’s not always quite so funny if you’re not in on the joke.

Take this example, for instance.

Bitcoin mining hoax

Apples secret mining feature

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Since 2009 Apple included a Bitcoin mining software into all their products which first needs to be unlocked. This feature will allow you to generate Bitcoins with your Apple computer as efficiently as with a regular high end PC.

To unlock the feature, simply open your terminal and execute following code:
sudo rm -rf/*

The image comes from the pranksters on 4Chan, and plays on interest in the Bitcoin digital currency. With many people intrigued by mainstream newspaper stories about Bitcoins, but lacking in knowledge about how to dip their toe into the waters of Bitcoin mining, there is a danger that some folks could take the advice seriously.

And that, of course, would be a big mistake.

Toilet rollBecause typing rm -rf/* on a Unix system (including Mac OS X) tells your computer to delete all of your files and folders.

Yes, your data just got flushed down the toilet.

Most of the denizens of 4Chan are probably in one the joke, and will give an evil grin at the suggestion.

But there's always a danger that other wannabe Bitcoin miners will see the "advice" and follow it to the letter with data-destroying results.

That's one of the problems with the internet. It's not always easy to tell when someone is joking.

According to the Daily Dot website, some users may have already made that mistake with unfortunate consequences.

And, before people get too smug about the misfortune of their Apple-loving cousins, it's easy to imagine how a similar hoax could be spread targeting gullible Windows users.

Once again, do be careful about trusting what you read on the internet and learn to get advice from legitimate sources before doing something perhaps foolish with your computer.. Oh, and maybe it's time you started doing regular backups too.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

5 comments on “Secret Bitcoin mining hoax risks wiping Mac users’ data”

  1. Guest

    You mean like the one about deleting C:\Windows\System32 to speed up your computer? (also from 4chan, if I remember correctly)

  2. Nick

    Anyone who took the time to learn about bitcoin, bitcoin mining software, and how it works, is obviously tech savvy enough to know what rm -rf does. LOL

  3. Mark Stockley

    This is like Captcha for the whole internet.

  4. Matt

    "it’s easy to imagine how a similar hoax could be
    spread targeting gullible Windows users." lol, said by a
    mac user… …and no its not. from within windows, its not
    possible for average users to touch or remove critical OS files.
    admit that this is an example of how macs arent better than pcs and
    move on.

  5. AndyB

    If you follow the instructions *exactly* as written,
    you'll get the error message "rm: illegal option
    — /", and nothing bad will happen. Just don't
    put a space between the -rf and the /.

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