Many Mac and iPhone users have a false sense of security and think they are impervious from malware and safe from cybercriminals according to the latest macOS Threat Landscape Report from Bitdefender.
The report comes as more than 45 per cent of Australians are now using at least one Apple operating system.
Bitdefender says the main threats to Apple users are: trojans, adware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).
Apple has a narrower threat level than Microsoft or Google and for this reason many users think they don’t need security software.
Trojans pose the biggest threats to Macs which account for more than half of threat detections followed by Adware and PUAs.
The most common piece of malware that targets Macs is EvilQuest which was targeting 52.7 per cent of Macs.
Those who put off the latest software and security updates are putting themselves in danger because the Trojans are designed to exploit the unpatched vulnerabilities.
These are socially engineered into communications, spam, phishing emails, rigged advertising and tainted file downloads.
PUAs make up more than a quarter of detections and are often found as free software (freeware) and utilities like system cleaners with hidden functionality like data tracking and coin mining.
Some have been known to attack the Mac’s browser and change the default search engine and install plugins without the user’s consent.
Adware represents a fifth of threats targeting Macs and enables developers to make money through advertising with spyware-like behaviour.
“It’s true that Apple’s ecosystem – often touted as a walled garden safe from malware – enjoys a narrower range of threats than Microsoft’s or Google’s ecosystems,” the Bitdefender report says.
“However, our research shows that this apparent safety net isn’t impenetrable. In fact, this false sense of protection often means malware tailored to infect Macs is better suited to its goals.
“Threat actors have less attack surface to exploit, so they are forced to optimise their techniques and procedures to ensure better success.
“In recent years, Apple has issued a multitude of security patches to address critical weaknesses that were said to be ‘actively exploited’ by threat actors.
“Many of those flaws were found in key components shared by both Macs and iPhones. Many (if not most) users procrastinate updating software and deploying security fixes. And statistics show that the vast majority of Mac owners use older generations of macOS.
“Bitdefender recommends that Mac users stay up to date with the latest OS version and always apply the newest security patches.
“Equally important, never download software from unofficial sources, like torrents and warez sites.
“These hubs harbour most of the threats discussed in this report. Our findings send a clear signal that Mac users are becoming more vulnerable to online threats, making it important to deploy a dedicated security solution to keep watch over any potential malicious activity.”