In a trend that appears contrary to popular perceptions, the latest Malwarebytes (annual) State of malware report has revealed that the growth in attacks on Apple endpoints is outpacing the threats targeting Windows machines.
11 Threats Per Mac Endpoint
The report shows Mac threats were up (2019) four-fold year on year with 11 threats per Mac endpoint on average for Apple compared with only 5.8 threats per Windows endpoint. An ‘endpoint’ refers to an Internet-capable computer hardware device on a TCP/IP network e.g. desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, printers etc.
It is likely that the growth in the average number of threats to Apple machines isn’t just down to the fact that there are now more Apple users, but also because Apple may not be taking enough measures that are tough enough to tackle adware and pups (potentially unwanted programmes) compared to efforts made to tackle more traditional malware.
Figures from Kaspersky this month also show increasing dangers for Mac users as it reports that two years on from its detection, Shlayer Trojan malware attacks one in ten macOS users, and it accounts for almost 30% of all detections for the macOS.
Criminals More Creative and Persistent
As well as the increasing danger for Mac users, in the report, Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski highlights how adware, pre-installed malware and multi-vector attacks all show how cybercriminals appear to be heading in a direction where they are “more creative and increasingly persistent with their campaigns”.
Even though threats to Apple endpoints are growing at a faster rate, it is still Windows and Android devices that face the most threats from annoying and hard to uninstall adware and malware (including ransomware).
The report highlighted the 13 per cent rise in global business threats last year, and how Trojan-turned-botnets Emotet and TrickBot have been targeting businesses and organisations with ransomware new families, like Ryuk, Sodinokibi and Phobos. Also, businesses are facing new risks from hack tools and registry key disablers.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As pointed out in the report, those in the online security industry are having to work hard to protect users and businesses from programs that violate user privacy, infect devices, or turn their own infrastructure against them. Businesses and organisations, whether they use Apple or Microsoft Operating Systems need to be acutely aware of (and make sure they are protected against) the threats outlined in the report (malware, ransomware, adware, credit card skimmers and skimmer scripts), as well as phishing and the increasing use of social engineering in attacks.
Mac users may want to check the advice on Apple’s website about features (found in System Preferences) that help protect Macs and the personal information of users from malicious software/malware e.g. protection from malware embedded in harmless-looking apps. See: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mac-help/mh40596/mac
Also, Apple advises that MacOS users should exercise caution when accessing scripts, web archives and Java archives, which all pose potential threats.