CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If you think being a Mac owner will spare you the hassle of getting viruses on your laptop or desktop, think again.
More viruses have spread to Macs in recent years and now the infection of the moment, ransomware, is hitting Mac users too.
That's when a cyber-criminal finds his or her way into your computer, accesses your files, and then holds them "hostage" until you pay (usually in Bitcoin) to get them back.
WBTV Cyber Expert Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice, Inc., says this particular version is known by "geeks" as the OSX/KeRanger-A.
Her advice for Mac and Windows users in battling ransomware follows:
How it works:
1. They trick you via social media or email into opening a file that is infected with the ransomware
2. The ransomware installs itself behind the scenes and scrambles and locks up your files
3. The criminals send you a note and demand payment
4. Once you pay, they send you the unlock key to get access to your data
What can you do to prevent infection?
1. Run Mac anti-virus software, for example, Sophos.com
2. Check files and links against a free service such as TotalVirusScan
3. Make regular backups
What should you do if you are infected?
1. Restore your Mac from a back-up copy
2. If you don't need the files, ask the Apple genius bar or a geek to help you erase the Mac and start over
3. If you can't do that and you must have those files, for now, until a remedy is created you have to follow the cybercriminal's instructions which are posted on the Mac at README_FOR_DECRYPT.txt . It will require you to go to Tor and to login. Once you pay, they will give you the decryption key to lock the files
For the record, we recommend you not pay but we will not judge you if you do. This is completely your choice.