Ransomware, a malicious type of malware that works by encrypting files in exchange for a ransom, has yet to be a threat to Apple computers. This is not to say that Apple’s operating system is any more secure than Windows, it is just that malware developers have not yet figured out writing ransomware for OS X because infecting Windows machines has been extremely profitable enough. A few security researchers even demonstrated how easy it could be to develop ransomware that targets Macs. Rafael Salema Marque’s experiment to show how OS X can be targeted took him just a few days and security expert Perdo Vilaca created a proof-of-concept code for his Mac ransomware.
The infamous Cryptowall has proven that ransomware can be devastating to both companies and consumers alike, with losses of more than $18 million. The cost to get a decryption key could range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, and it is not unusual for the cyber criminals to not even provide the key despite being paid.
A mac user that encounters ransomware would have to somehow be tricked into running it. Apple uses security technology called Gatekeeper which blocks apps from unidentified developers from running. This will help save those from being fooled into running something that is not available in the app store or is not from an identified developer. However, security experts have found software flaws that show that Gatekeeper can be circumvented. This, along with the experiments conducted by Vilaca and Marque, show that although penetrating the OS X is not something to be worried about as of now, never underestimate the potential of these malware developers because infiltrating Mac is not impossible.