Apple product users are generally less affected by malware than Windows users. This is due to several factors: Apple’s focus on the security of its operating system and its environment, as well as its reduced market share compared to PCs.
But as the company MalwareBytes points out in its annual report, this observation could be changing: the antivirus publisher thus indicates to have observed an increase in malware detection in the course of 2019, with an average of 11 malware detected per device. This number more than doubled compared to 2018. It then amounted to 4.8 infections detected per device on average.
Macs also have their malware
Malwarebytes reports that the number of malware detections on macOS increased by 400% in 2019, but the company said that these figures could be inflated, due to the number of users of Malwarebytes on macOS. The company therefore believes that the average number of detections per machine is more representative of the evolution of the threat on macOS. The other important element is the typology of detected malware: the top ranking is not really traditional malware, which remains the pre-square of Windows, but rather potentially malicious software or adware.
Thus, the most frequently detected threat by Malwarebytes on macOS is Newtab software, a software frequently distributed via false extensions of the Safari browser and which aims to redirect user searches in order to recover falsified traffic on pages. Malwarebytes indicates that this malware, having taken its first steps at the end of 2018, was detected 30 million times in 2019. The top 3 threats listed by Malwarebytes consists essentially of this type of software, a perhaps less dangerous, but still annoying for users.
Some more traditional malware has nevertheless made its way into the Apple ecosystem: Malwarebytes cites the case of FakeFileOpener or OSX.Generic.suspicious, two malicious applications that aim to execute potentially malicious code on the target machine or redirect the user to pages containing malware by imitating the appearance of the macOS interface. But these two malware are not fundamentally new and have been in circulation since 2016.
If Malwarebytes sees an increase in malware on macOS, the landscape does not seem to have fundamentally changed for the iPhone. Traditionally viewed as secure and with a controlled ecosystem, malware targeting iPhones is still a highly sophisticated tool typically used for targeted attacks by governments or their intelligence agencies.