UPDATED 01:53 EDT / OCTOBER 22 2015


Report finds 2015 is the worst year in history for OS X malware

A new report from security firm Bit9 + Carbon Black, Inc. has found the perception that Apple’s Mac range of computers are safe from viruses is incorrect with 2015 said to be the worst year ever for OS X malware.

The report came from a 10-week analysis conducted by the company that demonstrated in 2015 alone, the number of OS X malware samples has been five times greater than in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined.

Over 1,400 unique OS X malware samples were gathered during the study period through a combination of samples aggregated from the team’s independent research efforts, open sources, experience from incident response engagements involving OS X, peer research, blacklists, and a contagio malware dump, among other sources.

The report noted that in particular in 2015 there has been a rise in more elaborate, or what they refer to as “interesting” OS X vulnerabilities and malware that have grabbed the security community’s attention; those include the XCodeGhost malware discovered in September which not only affected non-rooted iPhones but stolen data as well; and recent the discovery that OS X El Capitan contains serious vulnerabilities in its Gatekeeper and Keychain features.

Some forms of malware are always going to be more common than others: the current 6 top forms of malware on OS X stand as follows:

  • Lamadai – backdoor Trojan targeting a Java vulnerability.
  • Kitm – ran commands on machines for victims at the Oslo Freedom Forum
  • Hackback – ran commands on machines for victims at the Oslo Freedom Forum
  • LaoShu – spam via undelivered mail parcels
  • Appetite – Trojan targeting government organizations
  • Coin Thief – stole bitcoin login credentials via cracked AngryBird applications.

“Macs have been largely ignored by malware, until recently,” Bit9 + Carbon Black’s Senior Threat Researcher Mike Sconzo said. “Evidence of a more malicious OS X marketplace is clearly compounding and we confidently expect Mac OS X malware attacks to accelerate in the coming months.”


Just how bad these results are for Apple and OS X is without question relative: sure, Mac users can no longer boast they are free of risk, but likewise the number tracked over one year is still infintesimally small compared to malware that is released for Microsoft’s Windows operating system if not on a daily basis, but certainly weekly.

It should also be noted that Bit9 + Carbon Black sell anti-virus software for OS X, so it possible to say that it is to their benefit as well that the increase of malware on the platform is well known, after all how many Mac users would today use anti-virus software.

A full copy of the report can be read here.

Image credit: Bit9

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