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A New Surge in Mac Malware: Malwarebytes Warns Mac Users

It’s a common misconception that Macs are immune to malware. If you’re using a Mac, the truth is you are still vulnerable to certain types of cyberattacks. A recent report from Malwarebytes indicates a surge of Mac malware infections, and as malware and adware attacks on Macs continue to rise annually, MacOS devices are becoming a viable target for malicious internet actors and cybercriminals.

Mac Malware Infections on the Rise

With the success cybercriminals have had attacking Windows PCs and Android devices, it was only a matter of time before attackers targeted Apple products with Mac malware first appearing on WatchGuard’s list of top 10 threats in the final quarter of 2018. Then, in the first quarter of 2019, Malwarebytes found a 62% surge in malware infecting Macs. The Mac malware threats affect both individual users and organizations.

Considering there are fewer Mac users compared to Windows, hackers have traditionally focused on the more popular operating systems. According to Statista, MacOS currently has a 13% market share of all desktop and laptop computers. Compare this to the 77% running Microsoft’s Windows, and it’s only natural for hackers to target the biggest players in the market first.

Types of Mac Malware Infections and Attacks

Cyber criminals use the same techniques developed for Windows PCs to infect Macs. The bulk of attacks originate from malicious Microsoft Office files, open-source software, or crypto-mining malware. Mac malware can create backdoors in your network, monitor your keystrokes, or install malicious adware on your device.

According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, a massive increase in phishing attempts occurred during 2019. In 2017, phishing attacks totaled 7.3 million for the entire year and by 2019 there were 5.9 million phishing attacks in just the first six months of the year. The web pages deployed for phishing attacks predominantly mimicked banking sites with internet portals and online shops following close behind.

While phishing attempts against Macs have increased, new techniques that attackers use to inject sophisticated malware onto devices, such as malicious apps, have also emerged. According to Kaspersky, the most prevalent malware or unwanted software masquerades as an Adobe Flash Player application.

How to Protect Your Mac Devices from Malware Infections

To protect your Mac, you will need to remain vigilant and understand the risks that come from phishing attacks. If you receive an email from a seemingly legitimate source, always verify the URL before you click on the link. Any email from an unknown source that requests your personal information could be a phishing attempt sent by a hacker and should be deleted immediately. Finally, we, as well as reputable third parties including Macworld magazine, recommend you install and maintain a strong Mac antimalware product such as BitDefender or MalwareBytes. More information on Mac Antimalware is available here.

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