In 2017, WannaCry and Petya ransomware infected hundreds of thousands of Windows computers around the world. If you're a Mac user, you may be thinking "I'm safe from ransomware attacks." Unfortunately, that's not the case. Here are some security best practices to prevent ransomware attacks on your Mac.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to extort money from victims. It works by locking down access to an infected computer's system and files and demanding payment, typically in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, in return for unlocking the system.
Mac ransomware wreaking havoc
There is a common misconception that Macs are safe from ransomware. But as some recent ransomware attacks show, Macs are no safer than Windows computers from the growing threat of ransomware.
In 2016, a ransomware named KeRanger made waves when it was found to have affected over 7,000 macOS computers. KeRanger managed to bypass Apple’s renowned security protocols by piggybacking on an official BitTorrent client called Transmission.
Meanwhile, in 2017, another ransomware strain targeting Mac was discovered. Called Patcher, this Mac ransomware was disguised as an application for patching programs like Microsoft Office. However, launching Patcher would encrypt user directories and demand payment for a decryption key that would never be provided due to the software's faulty construction.
And finally, in 2019, the EvilQuest ransomware ran rampant on Mac computers around the world. Even after paying the ransom, EvilQuest victims weren’t able to gain back access to their systems and files
Prevention is key
Taking proactive steps to prevent ransomware from occurring is the best defense you can have. You can start by ensuring that your Mac's operating system (OS) and applications are updated on a regular basis. Aside from improved system performance, OS updates usually include essential security patches that aim to address the latest security threats.
And to ensure that your data remains safe, perform regular backups and set up firewalls and antivirus software on your Mac. Doing so can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access or exposure to damaging malware. Additionally, creating backups can also help you recover important files in the event of a ransomware attack or any other untoward event.
Another essential security tip is to use strong passwords and multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. These security methods can provide an added layer of protection to your data and systems, making it difficult for attackers to gain access to confidential information.
Furthermore, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of phishing emails since these are the most common delivery method for ransomware. If you receive an email from someone you don't know, or an email you weren’t expecting, avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments.
What to do in case your Mac gets infected
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having your Mac infected with ransomware, take these steps to protect your data, restore access to files, and remove the malware from your device.
- Immediately disconnect from the internet or disable any form of wireless connection to contain the spread of the ransomware.
- After that, if possible, back up all of your important files and folders onto an external drive or file storage provider. Make sure not to include any encrypted files in this backup.
- Run an antivirus scan on your Mac and delete any detected threats.
- Reinstall any deleted apps or replace corrupted system files.
- Finally, connect to the internet again and check whether ransomware is still present on your Mac.
It's also crucial to not pay the ransom fee. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that the attackers will provide you with the decryption key to release your data. Instead, you may explore free ransomware decryption tools online to remove the ransomware from your Mac.
Lastly, with a severe threat like this, it's best to work with cybersecurity experts. They know all about the latest Mac security threats and will be able to best assess and address the situation, and take the necessary steps to keep your organization safe.
Don't let ransomware and other cyberthreats ruin your Mac and your business. For more information about protecting your Macs from ransomware, contact us today. Our IT security experts will be glad to assist you.