Malwarebytes: Malware threats per endpoint on Mac double that of Windows

Windows 10 with Defender Antivirus disabled
Windows 10 with Defender Antivirus disabled (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Malwarebytes Labs has published its State of Malware Report for 2020.
  • The report says it saw a "significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019".
  • According to the report, average threats per endpoint on Mac was nearly double the average of Windows.

Malwarebytes Labs has published its State of Malware Report for 2020, revealing that it saw a "significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019."

According to Malwarebytes:

The State of Malware report features data sets collected from product telemetry, honey pots, intelligence, and other research conducted by Malwarebytes threat analysts and reporters from January 1 through December 31, 2019. Data from the previous year is used to demonstrate year-over-year change.

The data is only derived from Malwarebytes customers but is still handy in examining the trends of threats to users when it comes to malware. The trends can be skewed by users who install Malwarebytes for the first time, who might have "hundreds or thousands" of detections from existing infections from years prior. Nonetheless, the results are extremely interesting.

In its key takeaways, the report states:

We saw a significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats in 2019, with an increase of over 400 percent from 2018. However, part of that increase can be attributed to an increase in our Malwarebytes for Mac userbase. To see if that increase reflects the reality of the Mac threat landscape, we examined threats per endpoint on both Macs and Windows PCs. In 2019, we detected an average of 11 threats per Mac endpoint—nearly double the average of 5.8 threats per endpoint on Windows.

As mentioned, the 400% increase could include users installing Malwarebytes for the first time, and the detection of existing infections. However this certainly won't account for all of the increase, and as noted the threats per Mac endpoint were nearly double that of Windows. That figure of 11 threats per endpoint is a massive jump from 4.8 in 2018, showing a very high increase. As the report states:

This means that the average number of threats detected on a Mac is not only on the rise but has surpassed Windows—by a great deal.

The rise can be attributed to a growing market share, and seemingly, macOS' built-in security system's failure to crack down on adware and PUPS. Mac threats appeared at the top of Malwarebytes' overall threat detections for the first time ever.

In conclusion to Mac, the report states that only one incident involved "anything other than tricking the user into downloading and opening something they shouldn't." The report also notes:

If 2019's threat landscape tells us anything, it's that it's time to take a good hard look at Mac security and finally get serious.

You can read the full report, including in-depth study into iOS, Android, Mac and Windows here (opens in new tab).

  • I'm old enough to remember pompous Mac users trashing Windows for malware, while bragging that there is none on Macs.
  • I'm old enough to remember when that was pretty much the *actual* case. Not because the Mac was inherently more secure than Windows, but because it was a much smaller user-base so virus writers just didn't bother. The odds of you contracting a Mac virus back in the day were extremely low. Not so anymore however. That being said, let's not be pompous Windows users here ... and that includes this article's author. I noticed the slug: "Windows 1 - 0 Mac" - that's just pure clickbait. Over the lifespans of both operating systems, Windows doesn't really have anything to brag about. I'm also old enough to remember when connecting a Windows machine to the internet directly *guaranteed* that your system would be infected within hours - back when Microsoft felt that security was an after-thought. Thankfully, they've learned their lesson, mostly. But really, the problem isn't the operating system, whether you're talking macOS or Windows. it's users. No amount of anti-virus or firewalls are going to protect you when your users are click-happy little twits who can't resist opening every single attachment they get, then happily type in their admin password to run it with full privileges. This is a problem on both platforms. You'd think users would have learned better by now... but they continue to do it, and the newer "digital native" generations aren't any better behaved. I guess it's just easier to sit around and throw shade on each other's preferred computing platforms instead.
  • It is mostly the users fault but not always, e.g. modern ads can also spread malware (in some cases the user doesn't even have to click it).
  • So it's the operating system, but it's not?
  • More like: in some cases it is an operating system and in some cases it ain't. Lumping both together serves no purpose other than ad revenue.