A new study published by Malwarebytes suggests Mac malware threat detection levels are increasing in comparison with Windows. The study shows that overall, Mac threats accounted for over 16% of total Malwarebytes detections.
The most interesting statistic that emerged from our data was how many Mac detections we saw per machine in 2019. On Windows, we saw 4.2 detections per device this year. Our Mac users, on the other hand, saw 9.8 detections per device—more than double the amount of detections than Windows users.
While 16% of total detections doesn’t seem like a lot, you have to keep in mind the overall size of the Mac user base, compared to Windows.
Perhaps 16 percent doesn’t sound impressive, but when you consider the number of devices on which these threats were detected, the results become extremely interesting. Although the total number of Mac threats is smaller than the total number of PC threats, so is the total number of Macs. Considering that our Mac user base is about 1/12 the size of our Windows user base, that 16 percent figure becomes more significant.
However, there are other things to keep in mind when interpreting the data, such as that the statistics in the report are based solely on devices with Malwarebytes installed. And while Windows users usually install antivirus software as soon as they set up their computer, Mac users are more likely to only install such software if they expect their machine is infected. THis leads to a higher detections per machine count for Mac over Windows.
Malwarebytes acknowledges that “the overall threat detection rate for all Macs (and not just those with Malwarebytes installed) is likely not as high as this data sample.
Also, as pointed out by Malwarebytes, “traditional, full malware does exist for Mac” but it is often “more targeted or otherwise limited in scope.” That means the Mac detections consist “primarily” of adware and potentially unwanted programs. Meaning the detection rate may be higher on Macs, but the malware detected is usually less severe than what might be detected on Windows.
Malwarebytes suggests Mac users “stay alert, use antivirus software, and don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security.”
Read the full report from Malwarebytes here.