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Mac malware saw a dramatic spike in 2016, the latest McAfee Labs report has revealed
Malware attacks on Macs has risen by 744 per cent in 2016, the latest Threat Report by McAfee Labs has claimed.
The detailed report shared by the renown anti-virus company shows a dramatic spike in the total number of macOS attacks.
McAfee says it unearthed some 460,000 malware samples on Mac machines in 2016 – a huge increase over its 2015 numbers, but still a relatively small portion of overall malware attacks on personal computers.
Despite the dramatic increase in macOS malware attacks, Mac owners need not be too alarmed.
Malware attacks on systems running macOS have seen a drastic increase
Much of the increase can be attributed to adware bundling, McAfee Labs has clarified.
And while undeniably irritating, adware is less dangerous than a true malware attack capable of remotely hijacking your machine and rendering it unusable.
For those who don't know, adware is a type of virus that automatically generates and displays advertising material, including banners or pop-ups, whenever a user is online.
However, there has undoubtedly been an increase in malware aimed at Mac owners.
Over the last year, there have been a number of reports of Mac-based attacks.
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Last summer, Mac owners were warned about a new malware dubbed Backdoor.MAC.Elanor – a nasty piece of code that infects the OS X operating system and gives hackers complete access to the files on the computer.
Cybercriminals even used the malware to access the in-built webcam on iMac, MacBook computers – without the owner ever knowing the camera was in use.
Backdoor.MAC.Elanor was discovered by the team at Bitdefender who claim the virus is being downloaded from reputable sites offering Mac software.
MacOS malware rose 744 per cent in 2016, the latest Threat Report reveals
Cyber thieves have managed to hide the threat in a fake file converter application called Easy Doc Converter.app.
The app was described as a “fast and simple file converter for OS X,” but running the app actually installs the Elanor malware on user's machines.
Technical Leader of the Bitdefender Antimalware Lab, Tiberius Axinte said: "This type of malware is particularly dangerous as it’s hard to detect and offers the attacker full control of the compromised system.
"For instance, someone can lock you out of your laptop, threaten to blackmail you to restore your private files or transform your laptop into a botnet to attack other devices.
"The possibilities are endless."
Apple's Gatekeeper security package is enabled by default in OS X
How to ensure you do not get hit by the malware –
1. On your Mac head to System Preferences
2. Next tap Security & Privacy
3. From the General tab look at the option that says "Allow apps downloaded from"
4. Make sure you tick the box that says "Mac App Store and identified developers."