Mac users are highly vulnerable to ransomware, but with the proper precautions, they can keep the risk to a minimum.
Like many aspects of IT, cyber security is always in motion. No sooner do hackers develop a new method to launch attacks or breaches than security experts find new ways to block them, which hackers then set to work undermining. Few forms of attack have attracted more attention from both attackers and defenders than ransomware, or software that holds your files hostage. By taking proper security measures, you can keep your Mac safe from these and other harmful programs.
Rundown On Ransomware
Ransomware refers to programs that deny users access to their files, usually as leverage to make them pay a fee, or ransom. These programs may enter your system through hyperlinks or email attachments. They then prevent you from using key parts of your computer, either by encrypting individual files or, in rare cases, locking out the entire screen. Often designed by criminal syndicates or other powerful institutions, ransomware can be impossible to remove, forcing you to either pay the ransom or give up your device.
Although Apple advertises its products as being resistant to malware, the recent Transmission scandal demonstrates that ransomware is indeed a threat to Macs. In this instance, Mac users downloaded a ransomware program while attempting to torrent. The program waited a few days before locking them out of their files, letting them back in only in exchange for bitcoins. Given the growing popularity of Apple products, attacks of this kind are likely to become more common.
As serious as ransomware is, you need not be a security genius to avoid it. You can keep your devices safe through a few simple steps, namely:
- Download Diligence– Be wary about downloading content over the Internet, especially from sites that you are not familiar with. Before obtaining files from a new site, use Norton SafeWeb or other site security tools to make sure it is safe. You can also google the name of the site and see whether other users have reported problems with it.
- Email Examination– As with new sites, be wary of email attachments. Never open an attachment on an email from an address you are not familiar with. Even messages that seem to come from people you know could have been sent by dummy accounts, so contact friends and family over an independent channel before you open their attachments.
- Bolstered Browsers– Avoid browsers that have been flagged as vulnerable. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are generally considered the safest tools for web access.
- Shore Up Your Systems– The more recent your operating system, the stronger its security measures will be. Regularly updating your Mac will thus bolster it against ransomware.
In addition to preventing ransomware attacks, you can limit their impact if they do happen through redundancy. By making copies of key files and programs on separate devices, you let yourself quickly bounce back if an attack does succeed.