The Current State of Malware on MacOS
“Macs don’t get viruses” is something anyone who knows an iMac user heard and until recently this statement was more or less true. Windows simply had more threats and most of the malware was specifically designed to infect Windows systems. This has been the trend since the two platforms were first compared.
Over the course of 2019, however, this has changed. Malwarebytes reported over a 400% increase in Mac malware detection. For the first time, not only did Mac overtake Windows in the number of detected threats but also did it by a 2:1 ratio.
This information, however, should be taken with a grain of salt as Malwarebytes is a malware detection and removal tool. The aforementioned statistics only include threats that are detectable by Malwarebytes software and thus only encompass Mac users who have the software installed on their system. Therefore there is a much higher chance that most of their users already had malware present as many Mac users do not install antivirus software until they see signs of their computers being infected.
What Consumer Threats are Out There?
Although there has been a steady decline in the numbers of systems infected by traditional malware, such as Trojans and Backdoors, there is a new danger on the horizon. As it was in 2018, adware is once again the dominant threat to consumers. Here is the breakdown of the top 10 categories of detected malware in 2019 (also taken from Malwarebytes’ annual report).
Generally, Adware detection on consumer devices increased by 13 percent from last year, which is much better than the 463 percent increase for businesses. Seven of the 10 top consumer threat families were adware variants, as well as five of the top 10 business threat families. The volume of global threats against business endpoints has also increased by 13 percent from last year.
It’s Not All Gloom and Doom
Of all the threats analyzed [by Malwarebytes] this year, all but only one incident included tricking the user into installing and opening something which should not be opened. Being more vigilant with what exactly you download from the internet and double-checking the trustworthiness of software distributors is one way to possibly never face any issue with these threats.
There is even better news, most of the detected consumer threats fall under adware and PUPs (i.e. Potentially Unwanted Programs) and thus are considered less dangerous than traditional malware. Therefore they are much less likely to cause significant damage to a user’s system.
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