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Mac malware saw a huge rise in 2020

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Rabbit_Photo)

It's been a busy 2020 for hackers, as a new report shows a record-breaking number of malware samples for Apple's desktop OS, as well as Microsoft's Windows. 

In a recent report, Atlas VPN (opens in new tab) claims that were more Mac OS malware samples in 2020 than the previous eight years combined. Since 2012, when it first started tracking malware for Apple’s OS, until 2019, it found a total of 219,257 samples.

In 2020 alone, it found 674,273 new samples. Compared to 2019, when it tracked 56,556 samples, this represents growth of 1,092 percent.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, believes the biggest contributor to this significant spike is the ease at which hackers can nowadays build malware (opens in new tab) for the OS. In many cases, they need very little coding knowledge, she said.

“Nowadays, hackers don’t even need advanced programming skills since they can purchase a ready-made malware code, tailor it to their needs with a little bit of coding, and establish a completely new threat,” Welch commented.

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Despite significant growth of threats in the Apple ecosystem, Microsoft’s Windows is still a much more popular target. Atlas VPN says there were more than 135 times more Windows threats than there were Mac OS threats last year.

The company identified a record 91.05 million new Windows malware samples last year, meaning 249,452 new malware samples were developed every day of the year.

The company says the Covid-19 pandemic played a major role in the surge of Mac OS malware, as many employees who were sent home to work, started using their Apple devices for work.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.