State of Mac Malware 2020: Mac-Specific Threats Outpace Windows for First Time Ever

In this guest post, Alex Foley, CISO at Electric shares his POV on the 2020 State of Malware Report, a new report from MalwareBytes, an anti-malware software for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS that finds and removes malware.

In the world of IT, there is a belief that Macs are less prone to malware and hack attempts than Windows machines. This assumption dates back to the 90’s when most Mac users were schools or designers, and the closest thing to an iPhone was an Apple Newton.

Macs have been (and are still) less commonly used than Windows machines for company-issued computers, but they are a more valuable asset both physically and with regards to the data on the device. Many startups and businesses choose Macs due to their excellent build quality and the demand of their staff. Even in organizations that are primarily Windows-based, many executives opt for a Mac.

State of Mac Malware 2020

The new report from the anti-malware software company Malwarebytes, found that for the first time ever, Mac-specific threats outpaced Windows threats by a rate of nearly 2:1 in 2019.

Detects per endpoint chart via MalwareBytes 2020 State of Malware Report

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. This is likely because, with increasing market share in 2019, Macs became more attractive targets to cybercriminals.”

The data in the report only includes threats detected by the Malwarebytes software, and it is limited to Mac users who have Malwarebytes installed. However, the findings are still important to consider as they indicate trends in malware that companies should be mindful of, especially when developing a strategy to secure company-issued devices.

Malwarebytes is in an unique position to discuss this issue, as their product offerings have significant feature parity between Macs and Windows systems, where many of the big anti-malware vendors have limited, if any, support for Macs. This is one of the primary reasons that Electric chose to partner with Malwarebytes to deploy to its predominantly Mac-user customer base.

Macs offer an excellent user experience, and now have excellent software support. Historically, they significantly lag behind Windows in terms of how they are managed inside of corporate networks. Windows has a very strong management ecosystem and is highly configurable in every way that you can imagine (and many that you cannot).

The flagship solution for managing Macs is Jamf. Jamf has the broadest integration with the Mac operating system and the closest business relationship with Apple. While no MDM for MacOS has feature parity with Windows management (Local and Group Policy), Jamf is by far the closest.

How Electric Manages Macs for SMBs

Electric partners with Jamf for device management and Malwarebytes for an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) / Anti-Malware solution. Utilizing these two technologies together, coupled with robust security hardening standards, Electric provides industry-leading security and operational best practices on the MacOS platform.

While Jamf was originally designed for securing individual organizations, Electric has taken it a step further by developing a proprietary infrastructure to deploy the product at scale to its customer base. This internal expertise, combined with our close relationship with Jamf, gives us an edge in the industry over other MSPs that use inferior tools.

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