5 predictions for Mac security in 2018

Here's one example: Ransomware is shaping up as the king of malware, and Apple users are far from immune.

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Mac users continue to roam the Internet unprotected, despite growing concerns about hacks, ransomware attacks, and extortion attempts on the web.

In this blog, Bitdefender offers its predictions for Mac security in 2018 and beyond, with high hopes that Apple fans will take security a bit more seriously as we step into the New Year.

macOS Malware on the Rise

Malware is growing rapidly on every platform, including macOS (formerly OS X). On the consumer side, we expect a lot of “scareware” or “PUA/PUP” (potentially unwanted applications/potentially unwanted programs).

These threats typically arrive in the form of a scary pop-up saying something along the lines of, “Your MAC is infected. Download and install this tool to save your computer.”

It’s your duty not to fall for these traps, but you should also run a trusted antivirus program to make sure nothing slips through and takes hold of your device.

Enterprise Macs targeted by ATPs

In the business world, we see a growing number of APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) targeting enterprise workstations. In fact, almost every piece of Mac-centric malware that we investigated within an enterprise environment was related to an APT.

Since there is absolutely no reason to expect a decrease in APTs, we predict even more of these threats will target Macs next year.


Polymorphic malware is just what it sounds like: malware that constantly changes its identifiable features to evade detection. Many common forms of malware can “polymorph,” including viruses, worms, bots, Trojans, and keyloggers.

Polymorphism is now offered by bad actors on an as-a-service basis, and hackers are taking them up on this offer hoping to avoid detection.

Bitdefender AV solutions fight polymorphic malware through machine learning and Advanced Threat Control (ATC) which uses advanced heuristics to monitors a process’ behavior throughout its lifetime.

Increased Supply Chain Attacks

Schemes involving popular Mac apps are also taking on bigger proportions. As some readers will remember, last year Transmission was used in the first successful ransomware attack targeting Mac users.

More recently, a “Trojanized” version of the popular HandBrake video converter was found infecting Macs in the wild, identified in security circles as OSX.Proton.B or Proton RAT.

Proton is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) designed to target Macs and bypass Apple’s “Gatekeeper” security defenses. It can record keystrokes, access the user’s iCloud account, and even control the device’s built-in FaceTime camera.

We expect malware dressed up as legitimate Mac applications to increase in 2018.

Ransomware for Mac

Ransomware is shaping up to become the king of malware, and Apple users are far from immune.

In 2018, ransomware samples will contain fewer flaws in their cryptographic algorithm, and most (if not all) samples will contain a lateral movement component (similar to WannaCry and GoldenEye). These features will make them harder to detect and deter.

We expect a higher number of non-executable pieces of ransomware (i.e. Nemucod), as well as samples that spread through file-less techniques.

We also anticipate higher demand for Ransomware-as-a-Service platforms, and we expect the source code for older ransomware samples will be recycled and reused with more advanced obfuscation techniques.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac protects users against all these threats and more. Readers can download the full version and try it out for a whole month, for free.