I panicked a bit when I read about the ransomware that was attached to a recent version of Transmission, a Mac BitTorrent client. Thankfully, I hadn’t updated (or even launched) Transmission on my Mac in a while, so I’m not affected. I only use BitTorrent occasionally, usually to download a Linux ISO or books/comics from a Humble Bundle.
After realizing that I wasn’t affected, and calming down a bit, I started thinking about what I can do to prevent being affected by one of these things, both on my Mac and my PCs. Ransomware is a big problem, and has affected many individuals, companies, and even hospitals. As long as even a handful of people pay up, the bad guys will keep putting this horrible stuff out there.
For this specific Mac issue, there’s really not much I would have been able to do to prevent it. It wouldn’t have been detected by any Mac malware scanner initially, and it was signed by a valid Apple developer key. Transmission is an above-board, well-respected open source program that’s used by many people, so it’s not like I was using some sketchy adware-infested BitTorrent client.
Probably the worst-case scenario here would have been if the ransomware had scrambled all the stuff I had on OneDrive, and then the contents had replicated from my Mac to my two PCs. (And let’s also assume that the ransomware had scrambled my Time Machine backups too.) That could have left me with a lot of lost files. I should probably figure out a good way to make offline backups of my OneDrive files on a regular basis. (I miss the days when I could back up all my key files to a single 100 MB Zip disk.) And this also reminds me that I haven’t done a full backup of my new desktop PC yet.