It’s no secret that Mac owners have historically enjoyed fewer viruses and malware attacks than their PC counterparts.
Of course, Macs are hardly immune to cyber attacks, but hackers and attackers usually target the most popular operating systems, and before the rise of the Mac, that meant targeting the PC more than the Mac.
But with more and more people buying Macs in recent years, the number of cyber attacks has also spiked, and 2015 has been a particularly brutal year.
The Mac has seen more malware attacks in 2015 than the past five years combined, according to a new cyber-security report from the Bit9 + Carbon Black Threat Research team.
The team’s 10-week analysis looked at more than 1,400 unique OS X malware samples and revealed a surge in malware attacks in 2015.
“As big-picture trends from the data began to emerge, one data point struck the team as particularly noteworthy: 2015 has been the most prolific year in history for OS X malware,” the research team wrote in its report. “In 2015 alone, the research found, the number of OS X malware samples has been five times greater than in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined.”
The report cites the Mac’s growing market share in recent years as Apple devices including the Mac have become more mainstream. Apple has also entered the enterprise space, which means that more and more companies are allowing their employees to use Macs, which attackers could target in the hopes of accessing sensitive employee data.
“This rise in Mac OS X malware comes after several years of rapid OS X market share gains, with 16.4 per cent of the market now running OS X, including expanding deployment in the enterprise,” the report says. “This represents a growing attack surface for sensitive data, as 45 per cent of companies now offer Macs as an option to their employees.”
So what can be done to prevent these attacks?
All Macs have cyber-security software called “Gatekeeper” installed on their Mac, though it runs in the background and can’t be accessed. If you’re a consumer, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have an antivirus software program installed and that it’s up to date. Enterprise companies should also make sure their employees have antivirus software on their computer and that it’s in use with the latest update installed.
Both PCs and Macs will continue to face cyber attacks, and the spike in Mac attacks and vulnerabilities is no reason to panic. Many vulnerabilities are often discovered by cyber-security firms and researchers and never are weaponised by hackers. But reports like these are a good reminder that both operating systems are susceptible to attack, and it’s always a good idea to make sure you have the proper antivirus software installed and run frequent checks to decrease the chances of your computer getting infected.
You can read the full report from the Bit9 + Carbon Black Threat Research team by clicking here.
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