Home / Apple / Michael Tsai – Blog – 2020 State of Mac Malware

Michael Tsai – Blog – 2020 State of Mac Malware

Michael Tsai – Blog – 2020 State of Mac Malware

Malwarebytes Labs:

Mac threats elevated exponentially compared to these towards Windows PCs. While general quantity of Mac threats elevated 12 months-over-12 months by greater than 400 %, that quantity is considerably impacted by a bigger Malwarebytes for Mac userbase in 2019. However, when calculated in threats per endpoint, Macs nonetheless outpaced Windows by almost 2:1.

Emphasis added. This sounds actually unhealthy at first, just like the quantity of Mac threats is rising in proportion to the (bigger) quantity of Windows threats. But I suppose they’re simply utilizing the non-technical that means of “exponential,” so the entire thing boils right down to “more than.”

The full PDF report:

Of all of the threats seen this 12 months, just one incident concerned something apart from tricking the person into downloading and opening one thing they shouldn’t. That is the incident through which Coinbase, and a number of other
different cryptocurrency firms, had been focused with malware that contaminated methods by means of a Firefox zero-day vulnerability. Affected methods had been contaminated with the older Wirenet and Mokes malware. This was the primary time such a vulnerability had been used to contaminate Macs in any important method since 2012, when Java vulnerabilities had been used repeatedly to contaminate Macs (till Apple ripped Java out of the system, ending the threats).
Beyond that what we noticed was a digital landslide of adware and PUP detections, far outpacing development on the Windows aspect. While these threats are usually not thought of as harmful as conventional malware[…] […]

We outline “traditional malware” as malicious software program akin to backdoors, Trojans, and adware.


Among the highest 10 Mac threats (for each customers and companies) are a combination of PUPs and adware. The PUPs
are a range of largely “cleaning” apps which have been decided as undesirable[…]

So the phrases “threat” and “malware” even have sudden definitions that embody doubtlessly undesirable apps and adware.

Sara Morrison:

The quantity of malware on Macs is outpacing PCs for the primary time ever, and your complacency might be your worst enemy.

“People need to understand that they’re not safe just because they’re using a Mac,” Thomas Reed, Malwarebytes’ director of Mac and cell and contributor to the report, informed Recode.


“There is a rising tide of Mac threats hitting a population that still believes that ‘Macs don’t get viruses,’” Reed mentioned. “I still frequently encounter people who firmly believe this, and who believe that using any kind of security software is not necessary, or even harmful. This makes macOS a fertile ground for the influx of new threats, whereas it’s common knowledge that Windows PCs need security software.”

This sounds unnecessarily alarmist in contrast with the contents of the report, and I stay satisfied that for many customers Apple’s constructed-in safety measures are ample. I’ve seen way more Mac issues brought on by anti-virus software program than precise viruses.

Ben Lovejoy:

Third, and most crucially of all, Mac malware just isn’t a virus. These are usually not apps that may unfold from machine to machine, putting in themselves. macOS doesn’t permit unsigned apps to be put in with out person permission.


Update (2020-02-14): Apple:

Apple is dedicated to offering nice experiences that respect buyer privateness and safety. When becoming a member of the Apple Developer Program and accepting the Program License Agreement, builders agree to make sure that their software program is secure and safe for his or her customers. They additionally conform to cooperate with Apple methods, such because the notary service, designed to assist shield customers from malware (e.g., viruses, trojan horses, backdoors, ransomware, adware) or malicious, suspicious, or dangerous code or elements when distributing Developer ID–signed Mac software program outdoors the Mac App Store. The examples beneath are supplied to assist make clear some of the habits that isn’t permitted for Mac software program distributed on this method.

Via Jason Snell:

It appears that many of the gadgets in Malwarebytes’ report have gotten the hammer from Apple and are not actively circulating. The report’s lengthy checklist of Mac software program is an alert that the Mac is now a way more attractive goal for makers of adware and different rip-off software program. It actually can’t be a coincidence that Apple is stepping up enforcement of its insurance policies on the similar time that the quantity of these sleazy apps is growing.


It’s legitimate to marvel if the Mac’s status for being a secure harbor leads some Mac customers to make unhealthy safety decisions. But “Macs don’t get viruses” is an announcement that’s nonetheless overwhelmingly true. Even if it makes it awfully laborious to promote Mac anti-malware software program.

Update (2020-02-17): Nick Heer:

So the possibility of experiencing malware — not adware or what Malwarebytes calls “potentially unwanted programs”, however malware — on a Mac really fell in 2019, based on this report.

Michael Nordmeyer:

Cleanfox and Unroll.me are nonetheless being featured on the iOS app retailer in a “Declutter Your Digital Life” story

Thomas Reed:

“Macs don’t get viruses” is an announcement that’s nonetheless overwhelmingly true.

I see so many individuals getting contaminated as a result of they imagine this…

Also, needless to say adware and PUPs are usually not innocent. They have interaction in scams, intercept community visitors, exfiltrate delicate person knowledge (like browser historical past), and open all types of safety holes that might be taken benefit of by extra malicious software program.

Jason Snell:

As I wrote, “It’s valid to wonder if the Mac’s reputation for being a safe harbor leads some Mac users to make bad security choices.”

That mentioned, I do suppose you and your employer are stoking concern and that Malwarebytes advantages from that concern. I’m not shocked you’re taking exception.

Apple has a number of strategies of stopping unhealthy actors and has stepped up its sport in latest months. This third occasion stuff is sort of nugatory except you’re making some very unhealthy choices

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