Still think your Mac is immune to malware? Think again.
According to the latest Threats Report (.pdf) from McAfee Labs, the number of malware attacks on Mac skyrocketed by 744 percent in 2016. The increase was mostly as a result of adware, which isn’t too harmful — but it’s still software you don’t want lurking on your Mac.
Apple revealed earlier this week that the Mac user base is still growing, with almost 100 million users worldwide. Its rise in popularity has led to more malware and viruses designed to target macOS users — and there was a staggering increase in 2016.
McAfee identified around 460,000 instances of malware built for macOS last year, a rise of 744 percent over 2015. The vast majority of it is adware, which, as its name suggests, is designed to present users with ads rather than steal their data.
But more malicious software was detected. There has recently been a rise in malware that is hidden within seemingly innocent Microsoft Word macro, while back in January, a separate attack hijacked Safari and Mail, causing Macs to crash.
Although the rise is significant, the amount of malware designed for Mac is still small compared to other platforms. McAfee identified a combined total of 600 million malware instances last year, of which 15 million were targeting mobile devices — mostly those running Android.
It’s easy to avoid Mac malware; simply do not install software that hasn’t been obtained from trusted sources, like the Mac App Store and reliable third-party developers, and you’ll be fine.