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Can Macs Get Ransomware?

Can Macs Get Ransomware?

This entry was posted on by Michael Benadiba.
iMac and keyboard

For years, Mac users were confident that they didn’t have to worry about getting viruses. In recent history, malware creators often stuck to the most predominately used operating systems in attempt to do as much damage as possible, but today this is no longer the case. In fact, a recent study completed by Datto, a popular backup provider, found that in just the past year alone, there has been a whopping 500% increase in ransomware attacks on Apple operating systems.

So, can Macs get ransomware? Yes, they most certainly can, in addition to also being vulnerable to malware threats and other viruses. Some of the more notable attacks on Macs in recent years have included the following:

  • OSX/MaMi in January 2018 infected several thousand computers with a ‘snooping’ attack that showed exposed what the victim’s internet traffic was.
  • In 2017, OSX/PROTON infected thousands of Macs. This was designed to steal account credentials by accessing the OS Keychain app.
  • In 2012, over 600,000 Macs were infected with Flashback malware, which was designed to steal personal information and login credentials.

Why are Macs Being Targeted?

Why after years of being relatively secure against most cyber threats are Macs now suddenly exposed? Well, a large factor has been the shift by cyber criminals to focus on more targeted attacks. Criminals hone in on specific industries or business and often leverage social engineering tactics to gain user trust. Once they have gained access and infiltrated, they will usually try to extort money or steal critical data. In order to accomplish this, ransomware needs to be OS-specific, meaning that Macs and iOS devices are also targets.

As detailed in Datto’s report, 9% of Managed Service Providers have identified ransomware on Macs and iOS devices. While less than 10% may seem like a low number, when you consider that less than 8% of all business computers are Macs, it puts the threat into perspective. As an organization, you may just have a small group of users that work on Macs, however, you need to take the same security measures with those users as you do with the rest of your staff that are using Windows devices.

Awareness Training

Part of any business’ security strategy should be in-depth employee training. Teaching users how to identify and remain vigilant against questionable emails, websites and potential scams will create an organizational culture that helps keep your business safe from cyber threats. One way of identifying what type of training is needed and being able to provide a ‘real life’ example is by creating your own phishing test and seeing if any employees fall into the trap.

Protecting Macs from Ransomware

The first step in protecting any Mac devices from ransomware attacks is by ensuring that all software is up to date and any new security patches have been installed. Next-generation antivirus and firewall protection is a must to block and prevent ransomware attacks from infecting devices and networks. Finally, no matter how strong your security is, be sure to have an effective backup solution in place. This will allow your business to quickly recover systems to a point almost immediately before the infection occurred. This way, your organization can literally resume work within minutes and not be brought to a standstill from having your systems held hostage or have to pay out substantial ransom demands.

Now that you know that Macs can be a target for ransomware, make sure that your business is properly protected, no matter what operating systems you are using. To get started, get a free cyber security assessment today.

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Michael Benadiba
Michael Benadiba
CTO & Cloud Expert
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