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Malware Attacks on Macs Grow by 744% in 2016, Mainly Due to Adware

 

There is a common false impression that Macs are protected from security threats like adware or malware. It reported on many Mac-focused security threats, a new analysis shows that the number of Mac malware is actually heavily increasing. In a threat analysis report, McAfee shows that Mac malware increases by 744% in 2016.

 

While that figure may surprise you, it is not actually as alarming as it sounds. Bulk of the 460,000 examples identified by the security firm were because of adware bundling where software made users vulnerable to ads. However, there are certainly some significant security concerns such as Safari hijacking issue, Xagent or the Word macros problem reported before in the year.

 

Firstly, while the Mac malware is growing, it is more or less a rounding mistake when seen along with the Windows malware. In total, over 600M examples were found last year where malware was detected. Out of this, approximately 15M examples were of mobile malware - thus nearly all of them were Android. 9to5mac.com posted on April 6th, 2017, stating that secondly, the large growth in the macOS malware was mainly because of adware bundling - a software which causes Mac users being vulnerable to ads
instead of risks on their machines.

 

More worrying instances related to Mac malware also exist, though, like Jan. attack which hijacks Apple Mail App and Safari to make the infected machines crash, the Fruitfly malware attack the Macs in the biomedical research institutions and a Word macro targeted particularly at Macs.

 

Mac OS malware is huge in numbers but it is still a relatively small problem when compared to malware on Windows. McAfee gathered more than 630 million malware samples in 2016, with great majority of those being on the platform of Windows. In fact, even Android malware outpaces the malware of Mac several times more which suggest that attacks on Macs are increasing but it is still nothing like the threats which users of other platforms facing.

 

Last year, the Threat Analysis said about the Mirai botnet which took down major services and sites offline. Mac users wanting to avoid adware and malware should only download software from trusted developers and directly from the Mac App Store which should keep Mac machines comparatively safe.

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