As the audience for macOS grows, so too does the amount of malware on the platform. That's not as much of a problem as it once was, since there are now at least eight antivirus products that can repel almost anything a malefactor can toss your Mac's way. Testing lab AV-Test evaluated nine Mac home antivirus programs, and found that no matter which one you use, your system is probably pretty safe -- unless you use Comodo, that is. AV-Test is a Madgeburg, Germany-based lab that periodically evaluates antivirus software for Windows, macOS and Android. The old canard that Macs don't need antivirus software has by now been (we hope) thoroughly debunked, but if not: AV-Test measured more than 12 million attacks on Macs and 38,000 new Mac malware samples in 2017, peaking in December.
Think your Mac isn't susceptible to viruses? A recent report from security software company McAfee showed malware targeting MacOS grew by 744 percent over the course of 2016. According to the McAfee Labs Intel Threat Report for April 2017, there were 460,000 instances of MacOS malware detected in the wild, a figure that includes a massive 245 percent spike in Mac malware spotted in the fourth quarter of 2016 alone. While there have been several examples of truly troubling MacOS malware floating around in recent months, including cases of ransomware that will hold important files hostage until the victim pays a fee. However, much of the Mac-based threats that make up the rapid growth in the malware market come from adware, or software that collecting user information without the user's knowledge for the purposes of advertising to them.
A study found hundreds of new cyberthreats being discovered on a minute-to-minute basis and the number of global malware threats are up by more than 20 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Cybersecurity firm McAfee issued its monthly Threats Report for June. It found there are four new cyberthreats identified every second -- 244 every minute. It also saw huge increases in malware infections on all devices, with mobile devices and Apple's macOS being particular targets of interest. McAfee saw an increase of 22 percent in malware infection rates worldwide.
If you're worried about malware infecting your PC, you may subscribe to a security suite. But AV-Test's recent evaluation of the top antivirus software reveals a free service, Avast, at the top of the heap--and Windows' own Windows Defender just a shade behind. First, that Microsoft's own built-in protections are no longer the joke they once were, and second, that consumers may be overspending for protection that other services provide for free. The best modern security suites offer a number of benefits that go beyond strictly antimalware, of course: securing your PC against ransomware, providing a built-in firewall to replace Windows' own, protecting payment information and passwords, and using AI-like behavior to block zero-day attacks as they occur. What this means to you: While some of these extra protections offer great value--PCWorld recommends the use of a password manager, and VPNs are useful for preserving privacy--they can also be purchased piecemeal.