New strains of ransomware usually impact many Windows users, while only a small percentage of Mac users get affected. However, there are ransomware strains that specifically target Apple’s computers. Defending against these threats is crucial if your business mostly uses Macs. Here’s what you need to know about Mac ransomware.
What is Mac ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that holds computer systems hostage until a ransom is paid in gift cards, or cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum. It’s typically distributed using phishing emails, but it can also spread via unsecured networks.
When Macs are infected by ransomware, users won’t be able to access their data since it’s encrypted. Ransomware messages may also threaten to release the information to the public or destroy sensitive data if victims don’t pay within a certain deadline. Healthcare and finance organizations, in particular, are more likely to pay the ransom because these organizations tend to have a lot of valuable assets, including money, and can't afford to lose access to their critical data.
Types of Mac ransomware
In 2016, the KeRanger ransomware was distributed through the popular BitTorrent app Transmission. KeRanger was signed with an authorized security certificate, allowing it to evade macOS's built-in security measures and infect more than 7,000 Mac computers.
Patcher was another strain of Mac ransomware that was discovered in 2017. This type of ransomware disguised itself as a patching app for programs like Microsoft Office. When launched, Patcher would encrypt files in user directories and ask for a ransom paid in Bitcoin. But the ransomware was poorly built, so there was no way to retrieve the decryption key once the ransom was paid.
In 2019, the EvilQuest ransomware encrypted files and tried to trick users into paying a Bitcoin ransom. Much like Patcher, however, there was no feature to decrypt files after paying, leaving those who paid the ransom with nothing.
Ransomware attacks like these can make a resurgence at any time, which is why you need to be prepared in case of an attack.
An ounce of prevention goes a long way
Preventive measures are the best way to keep your Macs safe from ransomware. This involves updating your software regularly to defend against the latest threats and only installing programs from the official App Store.
Since ransomware initially infects computers using phishing emails, make sure to avoid suspicious links and email attachments. Always be on alert even if the email appears to come from a legitimate company or someone you know.
You must also maintain offline backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware successfully infiltrates your systems.
Responding to ransomware
If your Mac is infected with ransomware, do not pay the ransom fee, as there's no guarantee that hackers will provide a decryption key and release your data even if you give in to their demands.
Instead, use an up-to-date anti-malware program to remove ransomware from your computer. Cybersecurity experts may also release free ransomware decryptor tools to remove the infection, so keep an eye out for these on the internet. If these programs and tools don’t work, contain the spread of the ransomware by disconnecting from the network and run data recovery procedures, provided you’ve backed up your data in an external hard drive or the cloud.
Mac ransomware attacks may not be common, but they still pose a great threat to your business. If you need more guidance, contact our team of security experts today. We stay abreast of the latest Mac security threats and know just how to keep your business safe.