If you bought a MacBook or iMac because you thought it couldn’t get viruses or malware – you’re in for a nasty surprise.
Not only can Mac computers be struck down with the same annoying malware as other computers, they’re now targeted more than their rivals.
The most prevalent of the annoying programs have been named and shamed in a new report by anti-malware software company Malware Bytes.
It said threats on Macs rose 400 per cent last year outpacing those on Windows and in fact almost doubling the amount, with 11 detections per computer over the year.
Part of this rise was attributed to Apple growing market share, which made Macs a more enticing target for malicious coders and hackers than they had been in the past.
The report said Macs were particularly under threat from annoying adware and unwanted programs, differing from Windows where “traditional malware” like Trojan horses (programs or files that hide their true function), backdoors that give hackers access to your computer, and programs that spy on what you’re doing.
This means the threats you’re more likely to face on a Mac are more annoying than they are dangerous. But some can also be a real worry.
“While these threats are not considered as dangerous as traditional malware, they are becoming a much larger and more noticeable nuisance for Mac users who can no longer say that their beloved systems are immune from malware,” the report said.
Immunity to viruses and malware has always been a popular selling point for Macs, and was the subject of one of Apple’s iconic Mac vs PC ad series from the mid-2000s.
The piece of malware that Malware Bytes users detected the most was a piece of adware called NewTab, which was detected 30 million times last year after releasing in December 2018.
The adware hijacks your web browser and attempts to redirect the searches you make to earn affiliate revenue from referring you, making it hard to find the information or web pages you’re actually looking for.
It mostly gets into your computer through apps that embed extensions in Apple’s Safari browser.
It’s often spread through fake web pages, particularly flight and postage tracking websites that ask you to download an app in order to track.
The apps don’t track anything.
While the more prevalent adware is annoying, there were also significant detections of more dangerous malware.
The report noted more than 300,000 detections of a suspicious piece of code, and a similar number of detections of malware that sends you to scam websites instead of the Mac App Store when you try to open a file without the required program installed.
Malware Bytes advised the best defence was vigilance and your own behaviour.
“Of all the threats seen this year, only one incident involved anything other than tricking the user into downloading and opening something they shouldn’t.”
Apple has been contacted for comment.
Have you experienced any of these annoying programs on your computer? Let us know in the comments below.