Mac threat detections are rising

By | 17/12/2019

Sad MacI was using antivirus for Mac since my early Mac times in 2008. In that times, my reason was not because I was worried about security. I was sharing files with PC users and also I had installed Windows on my second partition on disk inside my MacBook White and I didn’t want to infect my friends’ computers or Windows on my second partition. But as Macs became more and more popular, authors of malicious software are more targeting to Mac platform. It’s no longer truth that Mac community is just too small to invest in. Also, many IT professionals are moving to macOS or Linux from Windows, mostly because of Windows 10 or ending support for Windows 7, and this also makes Mac platform more popular for crackers.

Which antivirus to use? First, don’t choose an antivirus because it’s cheap or free. Antivirus software by its nature needs high system privileges. The only Mac antivirus I trust is Malwarebytes. We purchased family license to protect all of ours Macs.

Malwarebytes company creates anti-malware solutions for Macs and Windows PCs. Malwarebytes company reports, that from top 25 threat detections in 2019, six of them were targeting Macs. It was 16% of total detections. Because Mac user base is still much smaller than Windows PCs’ market, Malwarebytes company found this number significant:

Perhaps 16 percent doesn’t sound impressive, but when you consider the number of devices on which these threats were detected, the results become extremely interesting. Although the total number of Mac threats is smaller than the total number of PC threats, so is the total number of Macs. Considering that our Mac user base is about 1/12 the size of our Windows user base, that 16 percent figure becomes more significant.

In 2019, it was for the first time when Mac malware broke into the top five most-detected threats, accounting for the second and fifth-most detected threats during the year. The number two was Mac adware called NewTab. This adware attacks browser’s extensions to modify content of webpages and it was found in Google Chrome. If you are using Safari, you are safe, because all Safari extensions must be verified by Apple and downloaded from the Mac App Store.

The fifth one from hit parade of top 25 is PUP.PCVARK (PUP means “Potentially Unwanted Program”). It’s a collection of Mac programs not intentionally installed by the user.

Malwarebytes company reports that there were 9.8 detections per Mac in 2019, compared to 4.2 detections per device for Windows PCs. But please note, as company said, only Macs with installed Malwarebytes are counted, and because many Mac users think that they don’t need an antivirus, antivirus solutions for Macs are often installed on Macs where is suspection for infection, and that may skew the numbers.

Most malwares for Macs are adware and PUP. Really dangerous malware attacks are often targeted and limited in scope, so most Mac computers won’t be infected.

Though I never got virus/malware/other threat (or I don’t know about their presence), I’m using Malwarebytes and some small security utilities, like utility to detect processes that encrypt files, because I value my data. Also, important is to do regular backups in case of infection. Maybe you know Lazarus, a group of crackers from North Korea, which is suspected to threat Mac computers by tricking users into downloading a cryptocurrency application from a seemingly legit website.

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