Mac malware reports grew 400% in 2019

Malwarebytes has published its annual State of Malware report, and it makes grim reading for those who cling to the belief that Macs don’t need anti-virus protection. 

Mac threats increased “exponentially in comparison those against Windows PCs”, the company said, with an overall year-on-year increase of over 400%. That is in part impacted by a larger Mac install base than in previous years, but even using the fairer ‘threats per endpoint’ calculation, Mac threats were still outnumbering Windows by nearly 2:1, with an average of 11 threats per Mac to 5.8 per PC.

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Elsewhere, businesses continued to prove appealing targets for cybercriminals, with the volume of global threats increasing 13% year-on-year. In particular, it was a bad year for ransomware, with business detections of Ryuk up 543%. Though that’s small potatoes compared to the 820% increase on Sodinokibi since its emergence in May last year. 

Adware, too, is proving to be a particular thorn in users’ sides, with underhand tactics like browser hijacks and the redirection of web traffic becoming commonplace. It’s also increasingly hard to uninstall whatever the format, be it Windows, Mac or Android

The firm also warned of pre-installed malware. The top-rated mobile threat of the year was a “team of pre-installed potentially unwanted program (PIP) variants that combined for 321,103 detections.” These auto installers ship with Android devices, ostensibly to update firmware, but they’re also known for acquiring and selling personal data.

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A rise in pre-installed malware, adware and multi-vector attacks signals that threat actors are becoming more creative and increasingly persistent with their campaigns,” said Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski.

“It is imperative that, as an industry, we continue to raise the bar in defending against these sophisticated attacks, actively protecting both users and businesses by flagging and blocking all programs that may violate their privacy, infect their devices, or even turn the infrastructure they depend on against them.”

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