IT and Tech

Macs are now more at risk from adware than Windows

Some of us knew this day was coming but it is finally here. Malwarebytes, the people behind the best free malware scanner on the market have said that Macs are now twice as likely to become infected with adware than Windows.

Ever since the first Apple computers were released, owners have been smug in their superiority that only Windows was susceptible to viruses, adware and malware. That wasn’t true of course. Apple was far less susceptible but was not impervious. That trend continued until recently when more and more adware and malware was targeting Macs.

That is little comfort to Windows owners though. Even though we are seeing the end of that smug superiority, nobody wants computers of any kind to be infected by anything.

The Malwarebytes 2020 State of Malware Report is an interesting read if you like that kind of thing. It said:

‘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.’

Mac adware

Despite overinflated prices, limited upgrade capability, restricted gaming ability and locked down ecosystem, Mac ownership is on the rise. Both in business and at home, Apple is selling more laptops and desktops. This makes them a much more viable target for adware and malware.

The report says there is a 400% rise in Mac threats with detections rising from 4.8 per 100 in 2018 to 11 per 100 in 2019. That’s twice the Windows rate which was 5.8 per 100.

The report goes on to say:

‘While these threats are not considered as dangerous as traditional malware, they are becoming a much larger and more noticeable nuisance for Mac users, who can no longer say that their beloved systems are immune from malware.’

Why are Macs being targeted?

Part of the reason why Macs are being targeted in their popularity. They are becoming more prevalent in business and in homes, MacBooks are incredibly popular and that is too good a target for hackers to miss.

Plus, Apple has been a little complacent with its adware protection. Apple did a lot of work to tighten antivirus and anti-malware but not so much on adware. That is now coming home to bite them and is showing in these statistics.

What can you do to protect your Mac?

There are a couple of steps you can take to protect your Mac from these threats. Only one of them costs money.

Good internet hygiene

A lot of adware comes from downloads. A popular vector is a free system cleaner or junk remover download. Mac OS doesn’t need anything like this as it is very efficient at managing its own resources.

  1. Don’t download random apps and programs.
  2. Be mindful of what websites you visits.
  3. Consider ad-blocking if you do like to venture into the unknown online.
  4. Use a VPN wherever possible to block malicious ads or stop them phoning home.

Use an antivirus product

There is such a thing as antivirus for Mac and you should consider using one. While still called antivirus, the main focus is now malware and adware as viruses are on the wane, nevertheless, a good security product will protect you from all threats. This page over at TechRadar does a good job of assessing Mac antivirus so I won’t repeat it all here.

If you prefer to make your own mind up, AV-Test is the go-to for unbiased antivirus testing.

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