2015 Looks to Be Record Year for Apple Malware, But Don’t Panic Yet

AP Photo/Andy Wong
AP Photo/Andy Wong

According to CSO Online, threat researchers at Bit9 + Carbon Black, a security solution provider, claim 2015 has been a banner year for OS X malware, finding five times more malware in 2015 than all malware found in the last five years.

The Apple ecosystem, some bad apps not withstanding, has traditionally be more insulated from viruses and malware than PC, but with iOS/OS X comprising over 10% of the market share for operating systems it seems that more malware developers are focusing on Apple. Apple products haven’t been completely lacking in viruses for quite some time but have a reputation in the tech community as being generally less prone to malware and virus infection, partially due to less interest in attacking the platform.

That may have changed.

“The findings were as memorable as they were damning. They discovered five times more malware in 2015 than all the malware samples discovered during the previous five years. Combined,” CSO Online reports.  “Perhaps more startlingly, the Bit9 + Carbon Black Threat Research Team is confident in their assessment that OS X malware attacks are bound to increase and even accelerate in their occurrences as we head into the end of the year.”

An increase, even an exponential one, does not necessarily mean a danger, however. To simply repeat “five times as many” or “the largest year ever” creates an instant assumption that the problem is large because it’s grown a great many times or is now more of a problem than it’s ever been, and it scares people. But the largest year ever for a problem that doesn’t happen that often is not something that should occupy a lot of our headspace; five incidents of shoplifting the year after a single case does not necessarily indicate a crime wave.

One point of optimism is that while the instances of malware have increased, most of the new malware isn’t very effective. Even though there’s an increase in malicious programs, “malware authors have not particularly made their wares sophisticated.”

Follow Will Ross on Twitter @SawmillLoris.


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