Apple’s Macs Have Long Escaped Ransomware – That May Be Changing

For the longest time, one of the biggest selling points for Apple’s Macs was that they were safe from ransomware, but according to industry experts, this may be changing. This year security researchers came across Mac ransomware samples that could completely change how we look at Macs and the Apple ecosystem.

The group behind the recently discovered Mac ransomware samples is LockBit, a notorious group operating out of Russia and known by cyber-security experts as one of the most prominent ransomware gangs. LockBit first emerged around the end of 2019, and since then, its signature has been high-volume attacks. Its most notable attacks include the Children’s Hospital in Canada and the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail. So while this isn’t the most famous threat group out there, they have created a reputation as a well-organized and advanced ransomware gang. 

Most internet users are already familiar with the dangers of ransomware, even Mac users who have been spared it so far. The attackers typically will not even bother creating a version of their malware that would target Macs as they are less prevalent than other operating systems like Windows or Linux. However, in the last couple of years, we’ve seen several experimental Mac ransomware, which has created an escalated sense of risk among Mac users.

Moreover, businesses and institutions have been increasingly incorporating Apple ecosystems into their workplaces as a safer option. But this trend has made it worth it for the attack groups to invest their time into creating ransomware that would work on Mac.

The MalwareHunterTeam first discovered the ransomware samples targeting newer and older Macs that ran on Apple’s PowerPC chips in the VirusTotal malware analysis repository at the end of 2022. However, these samples only started gaining traction this month.

What Does This Means For The Mac Users?

While this is concerning, the researchers argue that the ransomware is still at its beginning stages and does not present a tangible threat to Mac users yet. Still, the fact that LockBit has started working on this particular ransomware indicates that even Mac users will soon have to readjust their cyber-security habits to stay safe. 

While Apple has not made an official statement regarding this new ransomware sample, the field experts warn the users that things could escalate quickly. Patrick Wardle, Mac security researcher and the founder of Objective-See Foundation noted in the Wired interview that Apple seems ahead of the curve for now but that this dynamic would likely change soon. According to Wardle, the fact that such samples have started to emerge means that groups like Lockbit will continue to develop their ransomware that might eventually overcome Mac’s security walls and take away its status as a safer option.

What Can Mac Users Do To Stay Safe?

So, can Macs get viruses now? While developing ransomware geared toward Macs is probably not at the top of the list of priorities for most attackers, if this recent surge indicates, the answer to whether Macs can get them might change in the upcoming years. 

One thing is for sure; Mac users must be more alert than ever and ensure that all their security tools are up to date and follow the best cyber-security practices very closely. 

Installing available system updates is one of the easiest and most effective ways Mac users can ensure they stay safe. While the update notifications can get annoying, following through will ensure that you are getting the best, most up-to-date protection.

Other good digital safety habits include using VPN every time you go online to conceal your IP and avoiding odd links, especially from people you don’t know. Whether or not the Mac-geared ransomware develops, these tips are always good to keep in mind, as ransomware isn’t the only threat that internet users face daily, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

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