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United States Most Affected by Mac Threats

Most garden-variety Mac threats covertly collect sensitive user data by bundling themselves with legitimate applications.

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Many people believe Malware mainly targets systems running Windows, but recent developments have shown that Mac OS is just as prone to threats as any other operating system. Once believed immune, Macs have been targeted not only by advanced persistent threats designed for cyberespionage, but also by ransomware, a threat mostly known for targeting average users to generate revenue for cybercriminals.

Bitdefender, a global security technology company that provides cutting-edge, end-to-end cyber security solutions and advanced threat protection to more than 500 million users in more than 150 countries, constantly monitors the threat landscape for emerging threats and malware outbreaks.

Our monitoring reveals that 25.03% of all Mac threats, ranging from potentially unwanted applications to exploits, ransomware, and Trojans, is reported by US-based victims. While one in four reports of Mac malware come from the United States, Canada and UK follow with 10.28% and 9.25%, respectively, according to Bitdefender telemetry data compiled from January to September 2017.

Defining Mac Threats

Most garden-variety Mac threats involve applications designed to covertly collect sensitive user data by bundling themselves with legitimate applications, such as browser plugins or toolbars. But they should not be disregarded as minor threats.  These threats can hijack user browser traffic and redirect users to – at best – ad-serving websites—but they could also steer users to more pervasive websites designed to covertly install backdoor Trojans by exploiting various system or browser vulnerabilities.

These “generic” Trojans are usually designed to generate revenue for attackers by tricking victims into clicking ads to which attackers have some sort of affiliation. However, some threats simply collect private user information, such as authentication credentials and cookies, and broadcast them to attackers.

Probably the most worrisome Mac malware is the one that can create backdoors in the victim’s computer, allowing attackers to remotely dial into the device. These Trojans not only allow attackers to gain access to every piece of information on the victim’s system, but can also install additional tools that increase their persistency.

The United States, top target of Mac threats

While the US seems to take the brunt of Mac malware attacks, countries such as France, Germany, and Australia together account for approximately 20% of Mac malware reports in the same timeframe.

Since malware has no geographic or political limitations, and crosses all borders, it does seem that US users are more often targeted by Mac threats. Cybercriminals have a wide-ranging arsenal for delivering Mac malware, including using social-engineering techniques and tricking victims into opening malicious URLs, opening infected attachments, or installing shady applications.

The best course of action to steer clear of any piece of malicious application, phishing, or fraudulent website is to install a Mac security solution that can scan downloaded and installed applications, while also monitoring their behavior throughout their entire lifetime. This guarantees that you won’t install anything shady, and that browsing and even e-banking can be safe and worry-free.