Computers

Apple's OSX computers now being hit with twice as much malware as PCs

Apple's OSX computers now bein...
As Apple's desktop market share has increased, cybercriminals have taken notice, and Macs are now getting hit with nearly twice the malware attacks that PCs are – just in less harmful categories
As Apple's desktop market share has increased, cybercriminals have taken notice, and Macs are now getting hit with nearly twice the malware attacks that PCs are – just in less harmful categories
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As Apple's desktop market share has increased, cybercriminals have taken notice, and Macs are now getting hit with nearly twice the malware attacks that PCs are – just in less harmful categories
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As Apple's desktop market share has increased, cybercriminals have taken notice, and Macs are now getting hit with nearly twice the malware attacks that PCs are – just in less harmful categories
Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year
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Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year
Macs were exposed almost exclusively to less harmful adware and "potentially unwanted programs" (PUPs), and in virtually all cases, somebody clicked something they shouldn't have
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Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year
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Mac laptops and desktops running OSX have a reputation as being virus- and malware-free, but as Apple's market share increases, cybercriminals are beginning to focus their efforts on OSX machines, according to a recent report by Malwarebytes.

The State of Malware 2020 report is a deep dive into what this anti-malware company has found on computers and devices across its installation base, covering Windows, macOS/OSX, iOS and Android operating systems, and splitting threats into categories such as adware, trojans, hijackers, backdoors, spyware, ransomware and others.

Windows machines, due to the fact that they make up nearly 80 percent of the desktop market, have been getting slammed with viruses and malware nearly as far back as we can remember. But Macs are becoming more popular – rising from a 12.33-percent market share to 17.04 percent between Jan 1, 2019 and Jan 1, 2020, according to Statcounter. Looking further back, Macs represented only 8.44 percent back in Q1 2014. That's quite a rise.

As a result, Macs are starting to get some of the attention PCs have enjoyed from cybercriminals, and the Malwarebytes report speaks of a "virtual landslide" of malware detections on OSX devices. Per computer, Windows desktops had some 5.8 malware detections a year, and Macs had nearly double that, at 11.0.

Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year
Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year

The news isn't all bad though; far from it. The types of infections were very different between the two operating systems, and where Windows machines copped a lot of trojans, riskware, hack and cracktools, backdoors, hijackers and worms – as well as ransomware, presumably because so many business offices run on Windows – the Mac systems were almost exclusively limited to adware and "potentially unwanted programs" (PUPs) such as toolbars.

Macs were exposed almost exclusively to less harmful adware and "potentially unwanted programs" (PUPs), and in virtually all cases, somebody clicked something they shouldn't have
Malwarebytes detected nearly twice as many malware infections on Macs as Windows PCs in 2019, a huge jump from the previous year

And if you know what you're doing on the Web, you're still almost totally safe on a Mac. By far the most common adware was the NewTab variety, which is typically caught by opening fake flight- or package-tracking messages, and shows users ads that generate income for its shadowy authors. Indeed, the report states that in all of 2019, "only one incident involved anything other than tricking the user into downloading and opening something they shouldn't."

As Apple's market share continues to rise, particularly in the business sector, perhaps this can be expected to change in the coming years. But for now, it seems education and the odd free malware scan are still sufficient to keep you relatively safe from anything but annoyance on a Mac.

Source: Malwarebytes via Gizmodo

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6 comments
martinwinlow
Well, they *would* say that, wouldn't they...!
Arandor
"OSX" had a name change in 2016. Ever since version 10.12, it's called macOS.
bwana4swahili
Until this time Apple has had such low adoption rates as to be of little interest to hackers AND, as such, has never had to worry about robust security. No surprise malware is catching them off guard!
christopher
@bwana4swahili - true, they never had to *worry* about "robust security", because unlike Windows, they ALREADY HAVE robust security. That's part of the reason hackers had little interest - because they are vastly more difficult to compromise than Windows.
ljaques
Sad to see so many freakin' hackers in the world, but at least they're laying off the Win boxes a bit. Fair is fair, wot, Apple?
Brian M
@christopher
But the big danger is Apple security has been based more on a walled garden approach and with few users making it less attractive to the attackers, so the defenses have not been as well tested. So with a higher level of attack and user base not as savvy against security risks (they haven't need to be until now!) the damage inflicted could be a lot more severe.