While it’s uncommon to hear about malware and viruses affecting macOS compared to Windows computers, malware on Macs is actually prevalent. Macs were less targeted than Windows PCs because they had fewer users, but they were still susceptible to many online threats. According to Malwarebytes, Mac devices had a 400% increase in threats between 2018 and 2019 alone.
So, this perception of safety is entirely unfounded and dangerous because it lulls people into a false sense of security. Let’s check out some of the most prominent types of malware that Mac users have to watch out for today.
It’s such a small word, but adware is one of the biggest threats Mac users face today. Adware includes spyware that is automatically and unknowingly downloaded via ads or malicious software that, for example, redirects web searches to generate ad revenue.
Most notably, adware like Cimpli is one of the adware threats delivered by the trojan Shlayer (learn more about this trojan below). Adware can come from various sources, including malicious ads, a browser vulnerability, or a bug in an app. The problem with adware is that it’s hard for the OS to detect and do anything about it.
Trojans are masked as software installations, updates, or browser extensions that get installed onto the computer. It looks legitimate but is there to steal information off of the computer or install other malicious software.
As mentioned above, the trojan Shlayer delivers various adware payloads onto a computer and is currently Mac users’ #1 threat. It works by convincing people to click on a bad link to download a fake adobe flash update. This is still one of the biggest threats to Mac users, despite many warnings and Adobe announced that Flash is now discontinued.
This is one threat that individual Mac users don’t have to worry about for the most part, as ransomware generally targets businesses. However, attackers targeting people’s home computers aren’t unheard of either, as the new ThiefQuest ransomware, so it’s better to be still wary.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts all or certain files and folders on a computer. People will usually find that they’ve been locked out of accessing their files and then receive a ransom email from the attackers demanding money.
4. Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)
This type of malware is a file or program that sneaks in by bundling itself with another, often legitimate, download. Many cybersecurity experts refrain from calling PUPs malware because they are usually more irritating than dangerous.
For example, an unhelpful browser toolbar that gets installed along with a computer program. The toolbar doesn’t necessarily help the user but doesn’t do any harm either. Instead, it will run ads and generate money in the background.
How to Avoid Malware and Other Cyberthreats
The first step to having a more secure Mac is to be more aware of the threats out there, but that’s not enough. Applying cybersecurity basics can go a long way towards staying safe from most malware because many people don’t, so attackers don’t have to use especially complicated methods.
Cybersecurity basics include keeping the OS and other software up to date, avoiding shady websites, and not clicking on suspicious links. Always enable two-factor authentication on accounts and get a VPN for the Mac to protect its internet connection from outside threats.
Macs aren’t as safe as many people believe them to be. They can easily get infected with various types of malware if users aren’t careful. So, be sure to apply some basic security practices and be aware of anything that might look out of the ordinary.