Mac malware threats surged in 2020, but are still nowhere near Windows

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
Malware developers ramped up the creation of malicious software targeting the Mac in 2020 compared to previous years, new data suggests.

Credit: AppleInsider
Credit: AppleInsider


Security researchers at AV-TEST GmbH logged 674,273 new samples of macOS malware in 2020, according to an AtlasVPN investigation. The researchers found 56,556 samples in 2019 and 92,570 in 2018.

Although the data only proves that more unique malware samples were identified, it does suggest that malware authors are continuing to turn their attention toward the Mac. Between 2019 and 2020, malware sample identification surged 1,092%.

The 674,273 samples detected in 2020 far eclipse the total 219,257 samples detected by AV-TEST GmbH between 2012 and 2019.

Of course, although the Mac malware threat is growing, it's still comparatively small. AV-TEST GmbH suggests that 91.05 million samples of Windows malware were detected in 2020, a record high and an increase from 89.07 million in 2019.

Going by those numbers, it means that Windows malware authors created an average of 249,452 new threats a day. Mac malware developers, on the other hand, made about 1,847 threats per day.

According to AtlasVPN, one of the contributors to the surge in both macOS and Windows malware development in the proliferation of ready-made code that can be easily tailored for specific attacks.

A Malwarebytes report from February 2020 indicated that development of macOS malware threats was outpacing Windows threats. The report suggested that Macs are becoming a sweeter target for attackers because of increased market share.

Earlier in 2021, Malwarebytes released a separate report that indicated malware detections were down on both macOS and Windows in 2020 compared to previous years.

Apple is currently in the midst of transferring its Mac lineup over to proprietary Apple Silicon chips, which have a number of security benefits and anti-malware mechanisms that Intel processors don't.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,010member
    And I didn’t get hit with a single one. Malwarebytes auto-scanning never once flagged anything. Why is that? Is it because I don’t click on anything offered on a web page? Is it because I pay attention where I’m at on the internet at all times? Am I just lucky? I’m of average intelligence. Are there that many stupid, gullible, lazy Mac users out there?

    Now that I’m old (70) I get phone calls  almost every day from ‘Apple Support’ telling me my iCloud account has been blocked, ‘Amazon customer support’ advising me there’s been a large order charged to my account, the IRS advising me there’s a warrant out for my arrest, Social Security telling me my deposit has been stopped, and assorted calls telling me I have to call them or lose everything.

    I hang up on all of them. Am I doing the right thing or should I call them back and give them all my personal information?   B) /s 
    edited March 17 watto_cobrajony0telcontar46
  • Reply 2 of 8
    tronaldtronald Posts: 34member
    I run BitDefender which I presume will find any of these roughly as well as Malwarebytes, but literally the only malware it has ever found is some PC-only malware in some old (obviously junk) E-mail attachments which I would never have clicked on. 

    Are there Mac viruses out in the wild that don't require affirmative overrides (including actively accepting security overrides) from the user to get them to run? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    lkrupp said:
    And I didn’t get hit with a single one. Malwarebytes auto-scanning never once flagged anything. Why is that? Is it because I don’t click on anything offered on a web page? Is it because I pay attention where I’m at on the internet at all times? Am I just lucky? I’m of average intelligence. Are there that many stupid, gullible, lazy Mac users out there?

    Now that I’m old (70) I get phone calls  almost every day from ‘Apple Support’ telling me my iCloud account has been blocked, ‘Amazon customer support’ advising me there’s been a large order charged to my account, the IRS advising me there’s a warrant out for my arrest, Social Security telling me my deposit has been stopped, and assorted calls telling me I have to call them or lose everything.

    I hang up on all of them. Am I doing the right thing or should I call them back and give them all my personal information?   B) /s 
    Is it because I don’t click on anything offered on a web page? Yes.

    Is it because I pay attention where I’m at on the internet at all times? Yes.

    Am I just lucky? No.

    I’m of average intelligence. Are there that many stupid, gullible, lazy Mac users out there? Yes, of course.

    jony0
  • Reply 4 of 8
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,269member
    lkrupp said:
    And I didn’t get hit with a single one. Malwarebytes auto-scanning never once flagged anything. Why is that? Is it because I don’t click on anything offered on a web page? Is it because I pay attention where I’m at on the internet at all times? Am I just lucky? I’m of average intelligence. Are there that many stupid, gullible, lazy Mac users out there?

    Now that I’m old (70) I get phone calls  almost every day from ‘Apple Support’ telling me my iCloud account has been blocked, ‘Amazon customer support’ advising me there’s been a large order charged to my account, the IRS advising me there’s a warrant out for my arrest, Social Security telling me my deposit has been stopped, and assorted calls telling me I have to call them or lose everything.

    I hang up on all of them. Am I doing the right thing or should I call them back and give them all my personal information?   B) /s 

    Better to not pick up at all.
    That's the reason I keep a land line -- I just let all calls on it go to voice mail.
    And, I only give my cell phone number to friends and trusted partners for emergencies and critical calls.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,269member
    Comparing Mac security to that of Windows is setting a pretty low bar.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,103member
    Still embarrassing for Mac. “Macs don’t get viruses” should still apply today. 
  • Reply 7 of 8
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,638member
    Beats said:
    Still embarrassing for Mac. “Macs don’t get viruses” should still apply today. 
    malware != viruses
    Fidonet127jony0
  • Reply 8 of 8
    Knock on wood! I have been fortunate in rarely getting any kid of virus/malware, adware, etc. on either of my Macs. I do own Clam XAV, and run it about once a month.  I also occasionally download and run Malwarebyes.
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