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Malwarebytes: Malware threats per endpoint on Mac double that of Windows

Adware
Adware (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Malwarebytes Labs has published its State of Malware Report for 2020.
  • The report says it saw a "significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019".
  • According to the report, average threats per endpoint on Mac was nearly double the average of Windows.

Malwarebytes Labs has published its State of Malware Report for 2020, revealing that it saw a "significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019."

According to Malwarebytes:

The State of Malware report features data sets collected from product telemetry, honey pots, intelligence, and other research conducted by Malwarebytes threat analysts and reporters from January 1 through December 31, 2019. Data from the previous year is used to demonstrate year-over-year change.

The data is only derived from Malwarebytes customers but is still handy in examining the trends of threats to users when it comes to malware. The trends can be skewed by users who install Malwarebytes for the first time, who might have "hundreds or thousands" of detections from existing infections from years prior. Nonetheless, the results are extremely interesting.

In its key takeaways, the report states:

We saw a significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019, with an increase of over 400 percent from 2018. However, part of that increase can be attributed to an increase in our Malwarebytes for Mac userbase. To see if that increase reflects the reality of the Mac threat landscape, we examined threats per endpoint on both Macs and Windows PCs. In 2019, we detected an average of 11 threats per Mac endpoint—nearly double the average of 5.8 threats per endpoint on Windows.

As mentioned, the 400% increase could include users installing Malwarebytes for the first time, and the detection of existing infections. However this certainly won't account for all of the increase, and as noted the threats per Mac endpoint were nearly double that of Windows. That figure of 11 threats per endpoint is a massive jump from 4.8 in 2018, showing a very high increase. As the report states:

This means that the average number of threats detected on a Mac is not only on the rise but has surpassed Windows—by a great deal.

The rise can be attributed to a growing market share, and seemingly, macOS' built-in security system's failure to crack down on adware and PUPS. Mac threats appeared at the top of Malwarebytes' overall threat detections for the first time ever.

In conclusion to Mac, the report states that only one incident involved "anything other than tricking the user into downloading and opening something they shouldn't." The report also notes:

If 2019's threat landscape tells us anything, it's that it's time to take a good hard look at Mac security and finally get serious.

You can read the full report, including in-depth study into iOS, Android, Mac and Windows here (opens in new tab).

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

1 Comment
  • The biggest threat is macOS exploits, the default Gatekeeper settings are pretty strict and most apps are sandboxed, I've had to manually allow a few pieces of software. The best thing for security is to keep your OS and apps up to date, and obviously keep the default security settings