Yes, Macs Get Malware Too!

In the early days of computers, one thing that Mac users often held over Windows users is that they didn’t have to worry about viruses. While it may have taken hackers a little longer to put iMacs and MacBooks on their radar, Apple computers have always been susceptible to viruses and malware.

In fact, the false sense of security that many Mac users have had makes them even more vulnerable, because they often don’t have the proper antivirus and anti-malware protection needed, leaving them vulnerable to phishing and other types of attacks.

As of 2020, Mac users are now the ones that need to be on the defensive, because not only have hackers leveled the playing field when it comes to attacking Macs and Windows devices. Macs are now seeing twice as many attacks according to Malwarebytes’ 2020 State of Malware Report.

In 2019, threats against Mac computers increased over 400% year-over-year and they saw twice the attacks of Windows users.

Why have the tables turned on Mac users? Here are a few reasons.

Maturity of Technology

When Macs and Windows computers were new in the late 1990’s Windows was (and still is) the most widely used of the two operating systems. So of course, hackers developed viruses, worms, and other malware for that OS first. 

But it didn’t take long for the “overachievers” to develop malware to attack iOS as well, and once that happened, scripts and code got shared, and it became much easier to crack into a Mac as the industry matured.

Work with Third Party Developers

Windows has always been the more open of the two when it comes to allowing third parties to develop hardware like keyboards for their system, making the code the operating system uses more accessible and easier to exploit.

While Apple initially only sold their own peripherals (mouse, keyboard) making it more difficult to exploit a hardware vulnerability, in recent years that has changed, and now third-party developers create and sell Mac compatible hardware as well as Windows.

Mac Users Tend to Keep Their Computers Longer

Anyone that’s shopped Macs and Windows, can immediately get sticker shock when looking at Apple computers. Apple’s model has been to offer fewer computer choices, while ensuring quality of system components.

The higher cost of Macs causes people to hold onto them longer than someone that’s purchased a $400 Windows computer, for example. This means that they will often be used even after their ability to upgrade to the next operating system is gone, leaving them more vulnerable because they’re not getting the most recent security updates.

Increasing Market Share

While the market share for Mac desktops is still far behind Windows desktops, which was 77.7% as of January 2020, there has been a marked rise in Mac popularity in 2019.

As of January 2019, Macs had a 12.33% market share and just a year later, their market share rose to 17.04%. With rising popularity comes more attention from hackers.

Threat Landscape for Macs

We’ve taken a deep dive into the report by Malwarebytes to see what the biggest threats were to Mac computers in 2019 and will most likely continue into 2020.

Here are some of the important findings that any Mac user needs to be aware of so they can properly protect themselves from a breach.

Endpoint Threat Detections Up

For the first time ever, endpoint threat detections on Macs were higher than those detected on Windows, showing an increasing interest by hackers to attack iOS devices.

Threat detections per endpoint in 2019:

  • Windows: 5.8
  • Mac: 11.0

Adware is the Top Threat Detected

The number one threat detected for both consumers and businesses was adware. These programs infect your system with unwanted ads that can popup anytime.

The “Adware.NewTab” was the #1 most prevalent adware detected, followed closely by PUPs, which are another variety of adware, usually in the form of “cleaning” apps that encourage you to download them for free online.

The NewTab is a form of adware that redirects searches in your web browser. It’s mostly delivered through apps with embedded Safari extensions.

Malware from Zero-Day Firefox Vulnerability

Another sign that Macs are gaining more attention from hackers is that a threat that hasn’t impacted Mac users significantly since 2012 saw a resurgence. Via a Firefox zero-day vulnerability, Macs were infected with Wirenet and Mokes malware. 

This resurgence in these types of malware attacks remind Mac users that their systems are just as vulnerable as Windows devices to attacks and similarly need proper anti-malware and antivirus protection to keep them secure.  

Get the Protection Your Mac Needs with a Managed Services Plan from RCOR

All of our managed services plans at RCOR include next generation antivirus/anti-malware protection as well as safeguards that block malicious URLs before they can download malware into your system.

Sign up for a managed services plan to today for security protection, plus a whole lot more! Call 919-263-5570 or contact us online.