Team 10: Ransomware attacks Apple users

Posted at 9:44 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 10:05:40-05

Mac users might not be as safe as they think.

According to security researchers, malicious software called “ransomware” has successfully targeted Apple computers for the first time.

Ransomware is software that hijacks a computer and locks out its user until a ransom is paid.

ESET Senior Security Researcher Stephen Cobb walked Team 10 through what would typically happen if you fell victim to ransomware.

“Your files have been encrypted and these are the instructions to get your key,” he said. “They don’t want to disable your machine, but your useful files, those are the files that get encrypted.”

Cobb called the attack a wake-up call to people who use Macs, one he believes is a little bit scary.

Ransomware has a lot of appeal to criminals because it's lucrative and low risk.

In February, a Los Angeles hospital paid a ransom to hackers who disabled its computer network.

But you can protect yourself.

"If you're doing your backup properly then you are able to recover from a ransomware attack without paying the money, but that's not to say it’s easy,” Cobb said.

The best universal defense is to be ahead of the danger.

Cobb says to always back up your devices and systems, and if you have antimalware protection, use it. "You want to stick to the Apple approved software, because if you go outside of that world, and certainly with an iPhone, if you jailbreak your iPhone, then all bets are off."

The program causing all the fuss is called “KeRanger” and requires victims to pay one Bitcoin, which is a little more than $400, to retrieve their files.