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macOS suffers from an increase in the amount of malware


New research has reported that there has been a significant increase in the amount of malware targeting macOS devices over the past 12 months.

A report by Atlas VPN found that software development for macOS increased by 1.092 percent in 2020 as hackers increasingly targeted Apple computing devices, including the all-new Mac M1 devices.

Overall, 674,273 new malicious software samples were detected in 2020 – a significant increase from the previous year, when only 56,556 samples were discovered.

Figures indicate that 2020 has been a good year for malicious macOS programs, with an unprecedented number of new breeds emerging.

Atlas VPN noted that if all new malware detected since it began tracking in 2012 to 2019 were integrated, this would result in 219,257 samples — far fewer than the figure seen in 2020.

From 2012 to 2019, the highest number of new malware strains ever discovered was 92,570 samples in 2018, indicating that 2020 was a good year for experienced hackers.

Rachel Welch, operations manager at Atlas VPN, noted that contributing to this record rise in threats is the fact that new malware is now easier to engineer than ever before.

"At the moment, hackers don't need advanced programming skills where they can buy malware code ready, adapt them to their needs with a little bit of programming, and create a completely new threat.

The alarms were raised earlier this year when the first original malicious software for The M1 Processor MacBook was discovered, just months after the arrival of the first Apple Silicon devices.

macOS security researcher Patrick Wardle detailed an add-on to ads via a Safari browser called GoSearch22, originally written to work across Intel x86 chipsets, but modified to work across ARM-based M1 segments.

The addition was first seen on November 23, 2020, according to a sample uploaded on December 27 thof via the Alphabet-owned antivirus testing platform.

"The add-on collects user data and floods the screen with illegal ads, but it can be updated with more harmful functions," Wardle said.

Despite the rise of malicious macOS, Atlas VPN has highlighted that the number of attacks targeting Windows users is still much higher.

The company discovered a record 91.05 million new samples of malware for windows were detected in 2020 – an average of 249,452 daily threats.

This figure means that the threats faced by Windows in 2020 amounted to 135 times the threats faced by macOS.