Malware Attacks on Apple Mac OS Rise 247% in Q4

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A new report out from McAfee Labs and Intel reveals a quarter-over-quarter increase of 247% in the volume of fourth-quarter malware attacks catalogued against Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) desktop operating system, Mac OS. The researchers report that the massive increase is the result of adware bundling.

McAfee catalogued more than 450,000 malware incidents in the fourth-quarter of 2016 compared with just over 50,000 in the same quarter of 2015.

Vincent Weafer, a McAfee Labs vice-president, told Dark Reading that the main driver of the increase was OSX/Bundlore, an installer program that combines legitimate apps with offers from third-party apps that users may not want but that are installed by default and may be difficult to find and remove.

While the volume of malware found on Mac OS shot higher in the fourth quarter, the volume is minuscule compared to the “tens of millions” of attacks launched against PCs running Microsoft Windows.

Weafer expects the number of attacks against Mac OS to drop, but overall the attacks continue to grow against Macs, PCs, Android devices and iOS devices. The growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices takes the security threats to even higher levels.

In connection with the additional threat from the explosive growth of IoT devices, McAfee Labs noted that there were more than 15 billion internet-connected devices in operation at the end of last year and that the number will rise to 200 billion by 2020. The report also contains a detailed history and examination of the Mirai botnet that caused the largest-ever distributed denial of service attack ever last October.