It is a noticeable trend and we've been warning you about the growth of Mac malware. We've seen a number of attacks targeting Mac computers the past year and it looks like cyber criminals are not stopping anytime soon.
We have reported about the very first macro attack, external hacking peripherals like the PCILeech, backdoor trojans like Eleanor, webcam hijackers and even cross-platform threats like Mokes make their way to Apple's platform.
The new 2016 threat report from McAfee confirms this trend and their numbers sound astounding! If you are a Mac user, you need to read on to see the bad (and the good) points of the state of Mac malware.
744 percent growth in Mac malware
According to the recent McAfee quarterly Threats Report, Mac malware has surged by a whopping 744 percent in 2016. The research showed that there were 460,000 instances of Mac malware detected in the 4th quarter of 2016 alone.
But even with this seemingly huge growth, the report still shows a few facts that prove that Macs are relatively safer than other operating systems.
First, although almost half a million Mac malware instances sounds high, it is still a drop in the bucket compared to the total malware detections for all systems. That number stands at 640 million malware detections, most of them on Windows and about 15 million were mobile malware. (Nokia showed in their own report, a majority of mobile malware in 2016 were Android.)
Second, the MacOS malware that was included in the report was mostly adware bundled in apps and not as dangerous as, say, ransomware or spyware. Adware is software that exposes users to more ads, usually in browser redirects and pop-ups, but they don't necessarily aim to steal your data, take over your computer or lock your files for money.
Still, this is a good indication that malware makers and cyber criminals are increasingly shifting their sights to Macs due to a growing user base.
Protect yourself against Mac malware
As we always advise, be careful about downloading and installing software on your macOS machines. It is highly recommended that you only install applications from the official Mac App Store and identified developers, never from "Anywhere."
Actually, in macOS Sierra, Apple has made it more difficult to download apps from "Anywhere" by deleting this option from the "Security and Privacy" settings. Older operating systems like Yosemite still have the "Anywhere" option, so make sure you restrict your app sources if haven't updated to the newest macOS version yet.
Additionally, avoid installing software from shady sources like cracked software websites or peer-to-peer file sharing protocols like Bit-Torrent.
Additionally, like I mentioned above regarding older operating systems, it is also essential to keep your operating systems and applications up-to-date and patched with the latest security patches to close potential security holes that hackers could take advantage of.
To shield yourself from the nasty effects of ransomware, make sure you always have a backup of your files either via Time Machine or with cloud backups like IDrive.