Are Macs Vulnerable to Ransomware?

Over the course of the long-running comparison between MacOS and Windows, the most discussed issue has been the concern of viruses and malware. There is an old myth on the internet that Macs don’t get viruses or malware at all. Well, that’s not exactly the truth. Sure MacOS is reasonably more secure as compared to Windows. Still, they are just as vulnerable as any other device. Infection might not be as common as other devices but it’s still highly possible.

In this article, we will exclusively be focusing on Ransomware. This happens to be malicious software that can block access to all your data on your computer. We will be briefly discussing how it affects your Mac, if your Mac might be vulnerable to it, and lastly how you can prevent it from attacking your machine.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware might be the most diabolical sort of malware to hit the internet in years. It’s been making a lot of headlines recently. Here’s how it all goes down. Like most types of malware or viruses, Ransomware infects your system through an unprotected download off the internet or via an infected e-mail.

Once malware targets your system, it starts writing to your disk and encrypts all of your files, blocking access to them. Some of the lesser malicious forms of it won’t really affect your computer. This sort of ransomware is more of a scam to trick you into paying money to the people behind it.

Real Ransomware actually encrypts all of your local data on disk. Then, as the name implies, it asks you to pay a certain amount (usually in bitcoin for most cases) in order for you to decrypt the files. Obviously, nothing is stopping them from taking your money and running off it with it.

Is your Mac at risk of a Ransomware attack?

MacOS is definitely much more secure than Windows. It’s popular mainly for its easy user interface and tightened security. That doesn’t mean exploits are impossible. Ransomware can still hijack your Mac if you download an unprotected file or open an infected e-mail. Over the years, there have been a few Ransomware attacks on MacOS. Thankfully, these were fixed quickly and it is now tougher than ever for the malicious software to seriously affect your system.

“KeRanger” and “Patcher” were two of the more serious malware that produced a lot of victims to the file encryption issue. KeRanger reportedly attacked more than 7000 MacOS users. Originally, it had a legitimate developer certificate. This means that if you somehow get KeRanger onto your system, it won’t trigger the MacOS built-in security. Thankfully the certificate has been revoked and KeRanger is not a source of worry these days. Patcher is even worse. It works the same way as any other Ransomeware, meaning it encrypts all of your files. The unfortunate thing is even if you do pay the people behind it, there is no real way to decrypt your files.

The more infamous Ransomware recently was “WannaCry”. This affected mostly Windows users and as of yet, there haven’t been much reports of it making a target of MacOS. However, it is definitely possible for it to infect your computer.

In a nutshell, Ransomware attacks on MacOS have been few and far between. Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and say it’s not entirely possible for your Mac to be immune to these attacks. If you are anxious that you might lose all your data at the hands of Ransomware, then read on how you can save your system from the malware.

Precautions for preventing a Ransomware attack

Ransomware can be a huge issue for both home users and people at work. If your data isn’t backed up and you aren’t using proper anti-virus software, your Mac might be vulnerable to Ransomware. We recommend you to take some precautions to prevent this from happening. Also, peace of mind is never a bad thing.

First off, keep your Mac up-to-date. Old software versions of the OS and apps might have more bugs and security exploits. This is why ransomware attacks computers running an older OS version. So, keep your OS and applications updated at all times.

Still worried about losing all of your files? We recommend backing up all of your data to an offline source. External drives are especially useful in this situation. This way, you always have a second copy of all your files safe on a separate disk. If you’re wondering what external drive you should get for your Mac, then go ahead and have a look at this roundup of the best External Hard Drives for Macs.

Last but not least, always download apps and files from reputable sources. If MacOS alerts you to avoid a certain download, then you should probably do so. The best bet is getting a decent anti-malware software. Anti-malware apps will automatically scan your apps and files from time to time and alert you of unprotected files and downloads.

Final Thoughts

MacOS doesn’t seem to be as affected by Ransomware as much as Windows. However, there is still a small chance that your Mac could be vulnerable. But if you take some precautions like backing up all your data and using protected sites to download apps, you should be safe for the most part.