Mac malware is on the rise. Says who? Says the folks who sell software to check for Mac and Windows malware. Let’s say they have something of a vested interest in the growth of malware in recent years. They’ve got to be happy about it, right?
According to McAfee, one of the preeminent names among malware watchers and catchers, malware for macOS has risen something like a gazillion percent in the past few years alone.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is this image worth?
See? Malware on the Mac is bad. It’s bad, I tell you. Bad. Numbers don’t lie. People do. So do numbers. Sometimes.
In this case, what really changed in recent years are definitions, or, put another way, the definition of what constitutes malware, as well as an increase in classes of malware. In the not too distant past, it was all about viruses because they could spread from PC to PC.
A computer virus is a type of malicious software program (“malware”) that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. Infected computer programs can include as well, data files, or the “boot” sector of the hard drive. When this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be “infected” with a computer virus.
An entire industry developed to protect PC users from viruses, and the era of whack-a-mole virus management began.
Virus writers use social engineering deceptions and exploit detailed knowledge of security vulnerabilities to initially infect systems and to spread the virus. The vast majority of viruses target systems running Microsoft Windows, employing a variety of mechanisms to infect new hosts, and often using complex anti-detection/stealth strategies to evade antivirus software.
Over time, other forms of so-called malware rose to fame and glory, including Rootkit, Trojan horse, Worm, and others, including the recent ransomeware and spyware class, adware, but all now generally referred to as malware.
What a mess.
Malware, short for malicious software, is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software. Malware is defined by its malicious intent, acting against the requirements of the computer user – and so does not include software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency.
Why the huge increase in malware for macOS?
Two reasons; and both of which are related.
shareware scareware, and spyware are the most prolific forms of malware for Mac users, and they’re growing in number, as McAfee’s scary chart indicates.
Second, and related to the first, is the main reason for the proliferation of malware. Users are the problem. The Mac as a platform has grown in recent years thanks to the iPhone and iPad halo effect which has brought millions of less computer savvy or computer sophisticated customers to the Mac who switched from Windows PCs.
As they say, you can’t fix stupid, and while I hesitate to use that word to describe what’s going on, users are the biggest problem on either platform. Too many Mac users browse to websites they should not, download and install applications they should not, open email attachments they should not, and thereby encourage the entire malware industry to target macOS.
The real problem with whatever Mac malware exists these days can be attributed more to the user than the old Mac vs. Windows wars of yesteryear.
That mirrors what I see as a major issue in politics and perhaps as a solution to the gridlock we experience today. The problem with so-called democratically elected governments these days is less who gets elected than it is who does the electing. Voters don’t choose wisely. The one person one vote thing is wrong. Why shouldn’t more intelligent or more educated people get more votes; ostensibly because they would make better choices?
For the most part, malware is a people problem. But then again, so is politics.