It was once a long held belief that anti-virus and internet security programs just weren’t required on OSX (now macOS). Unfortunately as penetration of the consumer market increases, so to does the attention of programmers with nefarious motives. Internet security firm McAfee report that malware aimed at Macs is increasing dramatically.
Infact the sharp increase in malware for macOS that McAfee reported last year has continued into 2017. The company reported a 53% growth in the first quarter alone, with the total reported number of malware detections totalling over 700,000 for the first time ever.
This truely is a scarey headline, an especially handy one for a company that sells internet security and anti virus software as its business model. So the numbers reported may be more for PR than a warning in the consumers best interests.
The numbers quoted by McAfee relate to individual instances, and not a reflection of the amount of different threats out there. There may indeed be 700,000 different threats to worry about, or simply a few threats infecting a large number of machines. We simply do not know the underlying reporting that the headline is based from.
The company do however point out the large influx of Adware onto Mac. These are usually small injections of code that show adverts in pop ups or divert the user to websites. While there is no doubt these are annoying, it is arguable that they be called a threat to the user. They do not typically compromise the machine integrity or steal personal data.
Sure enough, even with 700,000 instance that is just 1% of the 700million detected on Windows machines this quarter. So although Mac users are much thinner on the ground, users of Apples computers can be sure they are safer than their Windows using compatriots.
Apple have much more stringent rules as to what a developer can and can’t do on a macOS machine. That is not so say there isn’t any risks out there, but for the best security you should only install applications you know and trust.