Apple Mac users that have been boasting of having top end security with the limited threat from malware and viruses should reconsider their stance. Recent reports show that one of the world’s most trusted and secure products is facing a growing threat in malware and viral attacks.
The time of thinking that its only Windows machines users that should take precaution is over. Apple products aren’t that safe from malware as some have come to believe. According to cybersecurity software company Malwarebytes’ latest State of Malware report, it’s time Mac users took matters seriously.
The amount of malware on Macs is outpacing PCs for the first time ever, and your complacency could be your worst enemy if you don’t take responsibility for your computer’s security soon.
“People need to understand that they’re not safe just because they’re using a Mac,” Thomas Reed, Malwarebytes’ director of Mac and mobile and contributor to the report, told Recode.
Since Windows machines dominate the market share, it’s obvious that it’s among the most targeted operating systems, but since Apple’s computers have grown in popularity, hackers have taken a keen interest in macOS too.
Apple’s Mac continues to face a growing malware and virus problem
Malwarebytes said there was a 400 percent increase in threats on Mac devices from 2018 to 2019, and found an average of 11 threats per Mac devices, which about twice the 5.8 average on Windows.
“There is a rising tide of Mac threats hitting a population that still believes that ‘Macs don’t get viruses,’” Reed said. “I still frequently encounter people who firmly believe this, and who believe that using any kind of security software is not necessary, or even harmful. This makes macOS a fertile ground for the influx of new threats, whereas it’s common knowledge that Windows PCs need security software.”
Now, this isn’t quite as bad as it may appear. First of all, as Malwarebytes notes, the increase in threats could be attributable to an increase in Apple devices running its software. That makes the per-device statistic a better barometer. In 2018, there were 4.8 threats per Mac device, which means the per-device number has more than doubled. That’s not great, but it’s not as bad as that 400 percent increase.
Also, the report says, the types of threats differ between operating systems. While Windows devices were more prone to “traditional” malware, the top 10 Mac threats were adware and what are known as “potentially unwanted programs.”
Apple users are facing the threat of Adware which typically redirects users to websites with ads on them or throws pop-up ads in front of their intended internet destination, and also there’s the problem of unwanted software such as “system optimizers” which come bundled together with other programs yet they’re actually a form of malware too.
As for Apple’s iOS platform, which is used in its mobile devices, the new Malwarebytes report noted that there is currently “no way” to scan for malware but that it is known to exist — mostly in targeted attacks by nation-states, which is not something the average user has to worry about.
How are Mac users expected to protect themselves?
“People need to understand that they’re not safe just because they’re using a Mac,” Reed said. “They need to exercise care about what they click on, what apps they download — and from where — and who they allow to have access to their computers.”
One of the biggest factors that have led to the increase in malware on Mac’s includes one piece of adware called NewTab, which has amassed over 30 million downloads as an adware app on Mac devices in 2019 alone. It poses as an app or browser extension that tracks package deliveries or flights.
Users have also been advised to avoid downloading and installing Adobe Flash Player which has a number of ‘fake Flash installers’ posing as legit ones online, as its one of the top methods for getting malware installed on a Mac.
Apart from using secure passwords, users could try to remove the malware manually or resort to using security programs such as anti-virus software that will get the job done. One should, however, be cautious and ensure they download the right and safe security software from the right sources.
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Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre & Spur Magazine. He is passionate about tech, games and occasionally writes about entertainment, lifestyle and so much more.