Macs have a well-deserved reputation for being relatively secure, but they’re not invincible. If your employees use Macs, you need to protect your business by cracking down on cybersecurity.
Think your Mac is safe from malware attacks? Think again.
According to a recent study, malware attacks against the Mac rose more than 270 percent last year. Some experts believe attacks against Mac are increasing faster than similar attacks against the Windows and Android systems.
Businesses unprepared for today’s threats
Malware on the Mac is here, and many users are completely unprepared to protect themselves. By mistakenly believing the Mac is immune to malware or the Apple security built into their system is impervious to harm and threats, they are leaving themselves exposed. With the increase in Mac-focused malware attacks, employees using Macs are more susceptible than ever before.
For example, back in 2012, a piece of malware called Flashback spread across the internet to infect over 600,000 unguarded Mac users, including about 274 in Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. Flashback posed as an installer of Adobe Flash, infecting iMacs and MacBooks when downloaded. Businesses are still not fully prepared for today’s different types of cyberattacks.
Gabby Nizri, the CEO of Ayehu, states that companies were adequately prepared for cyberattacks as little as a decade ago. Today, the same companies are in crisis as they try to respond to an onslaught of cyberattacks. Too many companies are using the same cybersecurity practices they developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This leaves them vulnerable to the growing army of AI hackers behind most modern security breaches.
The biggest change has been driven by big data and automation. In the early days of the internet, hackers coordinated almost all attacks manually. Today, they depend on automated bots to carry them out. These bots are programmed to identify weak points in the cybersecurity infrastructure and exploit them better than human hackers can.
One common example of a bot attack is distributed denial of service (DDoS). This is when attackers build a large network of malware-infected computers, known as botnets, which can then be used to send massive amounts of traffic from many different locations to overwhelm website servers. This results in websites going down for potentially long periods.
Cybersecurity, Macs, and the malware explosion
This malware explosion threatening everyone’s favorite Apple ecosystem isn’t a surprise. Experts have known threats are out there, even as users were blissfully unaware their Macs were threatened by malware.
Mac computers have always been vulnerable to malware, even after Apple moved to the mature and security-focused Unix system. Since malware targets software, spreading by attaching to files, Macs are at risk. Anytime you bring a new file into your computer from a download or website, you risk malware.
In recent years, criminals have targeted new attack vectors with malware threats. This includes malvertising on websites. Malvertising infects websites, directing the search traffic on a Mac to fraudulent websites or fake online ads that can infect your browser and computer with malware.
Once past cybersecurity, criminals have tactics for generating revenue at your expense. Ransomware is one threat – introducing a virus to your Mac that will lock up the system until you pay a fee, typically using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. Spyware is another threat. Criminals track your keystrokes on an infected computer, stealing your data and login information.
Bots are yet another threat to your computer. They infect your computer to steal the computing power of your system to mine cryptocurrency. Recently, a program on the Mac App Store was used to mine cryptocurrency until Apple pulled it.
With the increase in adware on the web, the massive user base for Mac and Apple, and the ability of criminals to turn malware into a steady stream of income, it’s no wonder Mac users are threatened by a malware explosion.
What you can do to stop malware on Macs
While there’s no way to guarantee your business will never see a security breach, some basic software practices and employee protocols can reduce your risk:
- Start by protecting your computer with an additional layer of cybersecurity using anti-malware software. XProtect on Mac is a strong defense, but it may not protect against the latest malware threats or attack vectors. Prevent malware with additional protection focused on the Mac, like Malwarebytes for Mac.
- Next, take steps to directly prevent malware attacks. Many attacks start on suspicious websites. Use discretion when browsing, avoiding potentially malevolent websites. Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know. Don’t click on links unless you are sure they come from a safe place. Even these simple steps can significantly increase your safety from malware on the Mac.
- Make sure your cybersecurity software is updated on a regular basis. As new threats are detected, companies like Malwarebytes provide updates to keep their customers’ data safe.
- Create an employee security protocol that’s ingrained in their everyday business tasks. Educate your employees on the warning signs of a threat and what steps to take once they’ve identified a warning sign. This could include what to look out for in cases of spoofing scams, malware, systems hacking and social engineering.
Remember that desktop computers aren’t the only access points you need to protect; you must apply these principles to your company’s mobile devices as well. As the mobile revolution continues to progress and 5G gets closer to being reality, cyberthreats will literally be everywhere your employees go. Implementing strict cybersecurity guidelines now will mitigate your business’s risk of falling prey to a successful attack.