Here’s how to protect your Mac computer from ransomware

Jul 4, 2020, 4:05 AM | Updated: 9:59 am

(Pexels Photo)...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

Q: Do Mac users need to be worried about ransomware or is it just a Windows problem?

A: Ransomware continues to be one of the most lucrative attacks that cyber-thieves have in their bag of tricks. In 2019, there was a 41% increase in attacks with the associated costs estimated to be in the $7.5 billion range.

While Windows-based computers have always been a much bigger target because there are more potential victims, ransomware specifically targeting MacOS has been around since 2016.

The Newest Threat

A recently discovered threat specifically targeting MacOS users named ‘EvilQuest’ has significantly stepped up the damage it does to victims.

Not only does it encrypt data files and holds them hostage, it also installs a keylogger, tries to steal crypto-currency wallet info and provides the hacker with full remote control of the computer, even if the ransom is paid.

It seems to randomly select files to encrypt that can include critical system files, such as the login keychain. The damage done by this particular malware is so insidious, that the only known way to completely remove the infection to format your entire storage disk and then reload everything from scratch or a clean backup.

Distribution Method

This particular ransomware program was first found hiding inside of another program, allowing it to sneak in when the host program gets installed, kind of like a Trojan Horse.

Although it’s been associated with pirated software downloads so far, there’s nothing to keep the bad guys from exploring other options. Hiding it inside another program makes it much more difficult for traditional signature based anti-virus programs to detect the malware.

You can go to this page on VirusTotal to see which security programs have updated their signatures to specifically detect this code.

As always, it’s best to stick to reputable sites or the Apple App Store for installing any new software program.

Check for Torrent Programs

We know that this is currently being spread through pirated versions of very popular or expensive software programs available on various ‘torrent’ sites, which is a shady part of the Internet.

Specific programs are needed in order to download programs for free from these torrent sites, so it’s a good idea to check your Mac for them, especially if you have kids.

Some of the more popular programs include Folx, qBittorrent, uTorrent, Transmission, Xtorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, BitLord and FrostWire. You can manually search the Applications folder or use the Spotlight search (the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner) to see if they exist.

If you find one of these programs on your Mac, it would be advisable to do a thorough security scan of your entire computer and have a discussion about the dangers of torrent downloads with the family member that is using it.

The Best Protection

No matter which ransomware strain hits you, your choices are either to pay the ransom or lose the files forever, unless you have a detached or off-site backup.

Anything attached to your computer such as an external hard drive or USB drive will be locked down by the malware, which is why online backups are very effective against this growing threat.

Data Doctors

A careless user of your WiFi can open a pathway for computers and smart devices on your network to ...

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are tips to guest-proof your technology

A careless user of your WiFi can open a pathway for computers and smart devices on your network to be compromised.

2 days ago

Apple released an update with "Namedrop" feature...

Data Doctors

Here’s why ‘Namedrop’ feature in latest iOS 17 update is safe to use

Anyone who’s ever exchanged contact information manually to later discover it was off by one digit can see the value in this feature.

9 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

What are the pros and cons of using security keys for online accounts?

When it comes to using security keys for your online accounts, there are both pros and cons for users to weigh before deciding which is best.

16 days ago

(Pexels Photo)...

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

The problem with iPhone and Android text messaging

iMessage is the default for iPhone users, which can cause inoperability issues. Depending on your iPhone settings, messages may not make it.

23 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

What to do if your digital calendar has been invaded by spammers

A possible result of calendar spam is malicious links within the details trying to lure you to a dangerous place or an malicious file.

30 days ago

(Pexels Photo)...

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are tips for improving your laptop’s battery life

The age of your laptop’s battery and how many times it’s been charged and discharged also play a large role in its current capacity.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Here’s how to protect your Mac computer from ransomware