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

Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are some tips on how to speed up slow starting computers

Here are some ways you can identify and solve potential issues that may be causing your computer to start up slower than normal.
2 days ago
(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)...
Data Doctors

An explanation of how new credit cards have information stolen

If you've ever wondered how people can crack a new credit card, here's a rundown and a brief explanation on what thieves could be doing.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are the differences between Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge

Half of the United States uses Google Chrome as a default browser, but here are the key differences between Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
16 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Tips on how and when to use the iPhone screen recording feature

Here are some tips on when and how to use the the screen recording feature located on the dropdown bar on your iPhone.
23 days ago
In this photo illustration a spam 'Phishing' email is displayed on a laptop screen on March 21,2022...
Data Doctors

Tips and tools to detect and avoid computer phishing scams

Far and away, the method of choice for compromising users is through sophisticated phishing messages in email, via text messaging and through social media accounts.
28 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Tips for helping the elderly spot and avoid phishing emails

Here are things you should look out for and avoid if you are helping someone detect phishing emails on their mobile devices.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Here’s how to protect your Mac computer from ransomware