Mac Ransomware on the Rise: How a VPN Minimizes the Risk


For a long time, Mac users enjoyed a reputation for being relatively immune to malware threats.

However, complacency is a dangerous thing. Recently, cybercriminals have turned their attention to Mac computers, and ransomware attacks are showing an upward trajectory.

This malicious software encrypts your files, rendering them inaccessible. Then, they demand a ransom payment to unlock them.

Previously, Mac’s in-built security was enough for users, but today, it is not so much. Do you need antivirus for Mac?

Yes! At the rate of ransomware attacks and data breaches increasing, you can no longer do away with antivirus programs.

But antivirus programs alone cannot protect you from ransomware attacks. You need something that is specifically built to keep you safe on the Internet, and this is where VPN comes to your rescue.

Continue reading to know more about the growing threat of Mac ransomware and how a VPN minimizes your risk.

Mac Ransomware: An Evolving Threat

There was a time when Mac computers were considered less vulnerable because of their operating system’s inherent security features.

However, cybercriminals have been developing sophisticated techniques to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise Mac computers.

Here is what is fueling the rise of Mac ransomware:

  • Increased number of Mac users – The growing popularity of Macs is making them an attractive target for attackers.
  • Software vulnerabilities – Like any software, macOS is not perfect. Outdated applications or unpatched vulnerabilities can offer entry points for ransomware.
  • Phishing attacks – A common method for distributing ransomware is phishing emails. These deceptive emails appear to be from legitimate sources and trick users into downloading malware disguised as attachments or clicking on dangerous links.
  • Ransomware-as-a-Service – It is the rise of RaaS that has lowered the obstacles previously faced by cybercriminals. These services offer pre-developed ransomware tools and support, making it easier for even less technical attackers to launch ransomware campaigns.

What is The Devastating Impact of Ransomware?

A successfully launched ransomware attack on your Mac can have the following consequences:

  • Data inaccessibility – Ransomware encrypts files and makes them unusable and unreadable. This includes important documents, videos, photos, and other irreplaceable data.
  • Loss of productivity – A ransomware attack can disrupt your workflow, especially if essential business files are encrypted.
  • Financial loss – Malicious actors usually demand a huge ransom payment to decrypt the files. However, paying the ransom does not guarantee file recovery and this encourages further attacks.

How Do VPNs Reduce The Risk of Ransomware?

VPNs are valuable tools for augmenting online security and reducing ransomware attacks. Here’s how:

  • Establishes an encrypted connection – VPNs encrypt Internet traffic, making it unreadable for anyone who intercepts the data. This includes cybercriminals and hackers attempting to deliver ransomware payloads through unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Disguises the IP address – VPNs disguises your actual IP address and makes it difficult for attackers to target your specific device. This minimizes the chances of falling victim to targeted phishing attacks.
  • Promotes safer browsing – VPNs encrypt Internet traffic and make it harder for malicious websites to track your online activity and serve targeted phishing attempts. This helps prevent accidental downloads of ransomware hidden as legitimate software.

Essential Considerations Regarding Ransomware Protection And VPNs

Although VPNs are a valuable security measure, it is critical to understand its limitations:

  • VPN does not protect against all threats. It primarily protects your Internet traffic. It does not prevent ransomware from infecting your Mac through software vulnerabilities or downloaded attachments.
  • Even if you are using a VPN, you must use a strong, unique password for all your online accounts. This will make it difficult for attackers to gain access to your system even if they manage to obtain your username.
  • Ensure to keep your applications and macOS updated with the latest security patches. These updates address newly discovered vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware.
  • Stay away from free VPNs. They have limitations on bandwidth, data usage, and security features. They may even log your online activities and sell them to third parties.

Additional Security Tips To Combat Ransomware

In addition to using a VPN, follow these security tips to protect your Mac from ransomware:

  • Antivirus software – As mentioned above, antivirus programs for Mac help detect and block malware threats, including ransomware. Since ransomware attacks are increasing, your Mac needs an antivirus program that will help you identify the latest threats.
  • Data backup – It is essential to regularly backup your data, especially if you want to protect your system from a ransomware attack. Implement a well-designed backup strategy involving local backups and cloud backups. This makes sure you have a copy of your essential files that is not affected by the ransomware attack.
  • Enable firewall – Utilize Mac’s built-in firewall that can help block unauthorized access to your system.

The Bottom Line

Ransomware attacks on Mac is a growing threat, but it doesn’t have to be a crippling one.

Implement a multi-layered security approach that includes VPN and antivirus programs. This will significantly minimize your risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack.


Daniele Besana

Daniele Besana

Daniele is a freelancer consultant with 15 years of experience in network security, customer support, Linux and Salsa. He worked for Juniper Networks in Netherlands, providing support and consultancy on security projects across Europe and Middle-East.

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