According to recent research, 2015 saw a record number of Mac OS X malware attacks, with experts confidently expecting the number to continue to soar significantly in the coming months.
Security researchers at Bit9 + Carbon Black observed that in 2015 alone, the number of OS X malware samples has been five times greater than in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined.
The study examined more than 1,400 unique samples from a variety of sources, including open sources, peer research, black lists, contagion malware dumps, as well as the firm’s independent research and experience from incident response engagements involving OS X.
The report states the massive uptick may be attributed to the fast-paced growth of Apple’s consumer and enterprise markets, making its platforms a prime target for attackers:
“This rise in Mac OS X malware comes after several years of rapid OS X market share gains, with 16.4 percent of the market now running OS X, including expanding deployment in the enterprise. This represents a growing attack surface for sensitive data, as 45 percent of companies now offer Macs as an option to their employees.”
During the 10-week analysis, the researchers found that most OS X malware would utilize features of the operating system, with the most common being LaunchDaemons/LaunchAgents, login items and browser plugins.
“Malware more often resided in user-land and leveraged persistence mechanisms that supported this as opposed to attempting to reside in kernel-land by writing custom kernel extensions,” read the report.
Furthermore, the research revealed that there does not appear to be much – if any – Unix-style malware brought over to OS X, despite the OS X’s heritage in FreeBSD.
The firm recommends consumers ensure they have an antivirus software program installed, and that it is running with the latest update.