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Malwarebytes reveals huge rise in Mac malware during 2017

(Image credit: Flickr / Jason Ralston)

Apple Mac devices are being hit with more and more malware as criminals look to widen their attacks, new research has revealed.

The later figures from security firm Malwarebytes have shown that far from being the super-safe and secure platform that many people presume, Mac devices are being targeted with a huge amount of malware. 

The company surveyed millions of its users from around the world, and found that more Mac malware was detected in Q2 2017 than in all of 2016, and that more malware families have been detected in the eight months of 2017 than in any other previous year.

“Mac threats are not taken seriously enough in the security community today,” said Thomas Reed, Malwarebytes director of Mac and mobile. “Adware and potentially unwanted programs are becoming a major problem for Mac users. Some very popular apps have been known to carry these threats and despite protections in place, the App Store is not immune to these threats. 

"This perpetuates a crucial lesson that, despite what many Mac users think, they are not safe even if they are careful about what they download. Being security-savvy is no longer enough, all Mac users need dedicated protection against malware, adware and potentially unwanted programs.” 

In order to ameliorate this situation, the company is releasing a Mac-focused version of its software that it says will offer distinct advantages to users of Apple devices.

This includes a real-time anti-malware scanner that can detect threats as they appear, whether from malicious downloads, websites or adware. The company adds that Malwarebytes for Mac uses a minimal amount of system resources, meaning users will not see a slow-down of their device, and that the program can either completely replace a user's existing antivirus software, or run in tandem with other solutions.

“We carefully designed Malwarebytes for Mac to protect all Mac users from cyber threats and potentially unwanted programs so that they can feel safe and have a Mac that performs like it should,” said Marcin Kleczynski, Malwarebytes CEO. 

“Antivirus and security awareness is no longer enough defence for Mac users, the growth of Mac malware has made that very clear. We hope that more and more Mac users will come to this realisation and begin to seek out additional defences.”  

Along with the rise in Mac malware, Malwarebytes' research also identified a huge rise in ransomware threats targeting Android devices.

The company saw a rise in ransomware detection of over 100 per cent in 2017, with a 137.8 per cent rise in threats from just the first to second quarter of the year. Overall, Android malware has increased five per cent since the beginning of the year, showing the continued risk posed to mobile users.

Malwarebytes is looking to help these users too with the release of another focused offering, with Malwarebytes for Android offering tailored anti-malware and ransomware protection. The system also provides regular security audits and a specialised privacy manager tool to identify potentially harmful apps.

“Windows devices are no longer the sole victims of damaging malware attacks, as strategic attacks on Android devices are rapidly on the rise,” said Armando Orozco, Malwarebytes senior mobile malware intelligence analyst. “All Android users need to remain alert and proactively guard their identity and data on the go, just as they do on their computers at home.”  

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is News and Features Editor working across both ITProPortal and TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, including spells at one of the UK's leading national newspapers. He is interested in hearing about all the latest news and developments across the Business IT world, and how companies are using new technology to help push forward their work and make their customer's lives easier.