Cyber Threat Landscape for Mac Users in 2015


cyber threat mac

Over the years, Mac users  have enjoyed the benefit of being less vulnerable to viruses than Windows users. This made Mac desktops and MacBooks an attractive choice for consumers, as they didn’t necessarily require the download of an antivirus software. However, this is no longer the case.

In the past few years, cyber criminals have shifted their focus towards the Mac OS platform. As a result, there has been development of new malware, viruses and other cyber threats that infiltrate Mac computers to steal user credentials, damage system hardware & software, and lock the computer until the owner pays a ransom.

According to a survey commissioned by ESET (a security firm), Mac users have the same chance of falling victim to a phishing attack as Windows users. Competitive Edge Research and Communications, the firm that conducted the survey, concluded that such attacks are the cause of losses to users, but all users are equally vulnerable, regardless of their operating system.

cyber threat mac

In 2015, old cyber crime methods will be employed in greater frequency and new targets will be sought using a mix of old and new techniques. The following is a list of cyber threats Mac users need to watch out for in the months ahead:

Blackhat SEO threats: Threats like FAKEAV use Google’s image search to serve users malicious links that redirect them to landing pages that host exploit packs. These landing pages are crafted to imitate the look and feel of the OS X software. To conduct the attack, cyber criminals hijack search engine listings for indexed images and keywords. When users click these links, they arrive on the landing page. Cyber criminals may also use social media to conduct such attacks.

Trojans and backdoors: These threats take the shape of Flash Player installer, and sometimes Java files that target vulnerabilities in Java software. Trojans and backdoors exploit vulnerabilities to modify files in web browsers. While Apple has already released patches for most of these vulnerabilities, cyber criminals are expected to fine-tune the attack to target Mac users in the future.

Social engineering: Apart from cyber attacks specifically geared towards OS X, criminals may also use OS X attacks to target Mac users. These utilize social engineering tactics to exploit users to give out sensitive information. Spamming and phishing attacks via email and social engineering sites are included in such attacks.

How to prevent yourself from being a victim of cyber crime

As a Mac user, you need to take measures to safeguard your computer/laptop against upcoming cyber threats. The following are the list of steps you can take for the purpose:

Keep software and apps updated

cyber threat mac

Using on older version of a software or app is like welcoming cyber criminals to attack your system. Outdated software is one of the leading causes of hacks and exploits, so make sure any software or app on your Mac is updated to its latest version. While doing so, disable any software that can be exploited for attacks. Flash and Java have a long history of exploits, so disable their modules from the security panel in your Safari browser. You can open software update from the menu and turn on automatic updates, and do the same for Mac App Store.

Install a good antivirus application

A good antivirus for Mac will safeguard your digital life and protect your privacy from dangerous websites and online threats. Reliable offerings include a safe browser for online banking and help prevent identity theft by identifying and blocking phishing attacks. Also, it will scan private settings on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to prevent your machine from getting infected via social engineering.

Don’t follow random installations

If you get a link asking you to visit a website you didn’t request, don’t open it. This is how Mac malware has propagated over the years. So the rule of thumb is: If you didn’t request a link or downloaded a software to be installed and you’re prompted with a dialog box, don’t install it.

Also read: 7 Tips for Better Mac Security


Apple Gazette

One Comment

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  1. This is totally misleading article. First you start out by saying that macs are no longer “less vulnerable to viruses than Windows” – which is not true at all! As far as I know there is no known virus that has ever infected a current release of OSX. There has only been two confirmed wide spread mac trojans in the wild both of which used Google and both of which were protected (and removed) by a minor quick software update of from Apple.

    The you quote to back up your comments about malware and viruses on Mac’s with eh statement about a survey “Mac users have the same chance of falling victim to a phishing attack” which while true is not malware, a trojan or a virus they are social engineered web hacks, and in almost every case are not protectable by antivirus – so your recommendation regarding putting useless antivirus software on a Mc offers no improved protections.

    Further you implication that OS X and Windows are the same in this regard is simply wrong and misleading. Windows suffers from hundred of thousand viruses and malware that are out in the wide for a long time. The Mac can not protect you from a phishing attack, because they do not reside on the computer but rather in emails and on the web. The protection is simply to be careful when every you are asked to enter a password.