Apple computers and gadgets increasingly targeted by malware

Apple’s iPhone and Mac, long touted for their security, aren’t nearly as safe to use as they once were, new research suggests.

Record amounts of malware targeted and infected Apple computers and smartphones this year, security researchers say. And next year is likely to be even worse.

“Apple remains a relatively safe platform but Apple users can no longer be complacent about security,” Dick O’Brien, a researcher with security firm Symantec, told BBC News.

In 2014, between 10,000 and 70,000 Macs were hit with malware each month, according to Symantec. That was a small fraction of the amount of malware targeting and infected computers running Microsoft Windows. But in the first nine months of this year, the total Apple computers infected by malicious or unwanted applications was seven times higher than all of last year.

Apple’s mobile devices, which generally can only get applications via Apple’s app store, are relatively safer. Some 96 percent of all mobile malware is targeted at devices running Google’s Android operating system, according to FireWire, another security firm.

But malware writers are increasingly targeting Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Symantec has identified seven new security threats aimed at those devices. And earlier this year, applications infected with a particular piece of malware — including the popular WeChat messaging app — were listed in the App Store. Apple quickly removed them, but not before they were downloaded by numerous customers.

Malware authors are increasingly “finding ways into Apple’s walled garden, and that will ramp up next year,” Bryce Boland, chief technology officer at FireEye.

Files photo of Apple logo. (AFP PHOTO / Kimihiro HOSHINO / FILESKIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Symantec? Now there’s a neutral source of data on this topic! Ha!

    • baligeko

      For them, malware sounds like kaching.
      PS With respect to malware.
      – Windows is like a Swiss cheese full of rats
      – Android is like an onion in a compost heap
      – IOS and MACOSX are like an onion in a strong plastic bag.

      Which one is most appetising?

      • TheChoketownDangler

        Idiotic analogies, Limey.

  • tjwolf

    This article is written in a very “fuzzy” way (I feel charitable today – normally I would have used “slanted”). How are we to judge whether the premise of the article is actually true (that Apple hardware is increasingly targeted by malware, if you don’t include reference points???? For instance, you say that in the first 9 months of this year, Macs have already been hit seven times as often as the entirety of last year. Well, how many more Macs were there last year and this year? Granted, that number will probably not be 7 times as high, but when you make comparisons you should be using percentages – e.g. last year 3% of all Macs were targeted by malware and this year it’s 5%. Similarly, to tell us that the # of attacks is a small fraction of the # of attacks on Windows has absolutely no value since, obviously, that will be the case in a world where less than 10% of PCs are Macs and the rest are Windows. Give percentages!

    Even more fuzzy numbers were given with regards to iPhones: “But malware writers are increasingly targeting Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Symantec has identified seven new security threats aimed at those devices”. What does “seven” represent??? Seven compared to what? This is utterly devoid of information. And then you take the FUD factor a notch up by playing up one specific malware incident – which really has no relevance in proving “increasingly targeting” (I won’t ask where you got “numerous” from? That just screams FUD – in a world of half a billion iPhones and iPads, what is “numerous” in your dictionary?)

    I’m not saying that there aren’t any malware threats against Apple gadgets, but sloppy reporting like this is pretty irresponsible.

    • baligeko

      Let the guy invent his own figures.

  • The BBC has a long history of hating on Apple for some reason and being very pro Microsoft and probably pro Android now. And who would have guessed that a company that sells software to protect against malware would predict that you should buy their software for protection – because next year it’s going to be “scary”.

    • TheChoketownDangler

      “The BBC has a long history of hating on Apple for some reason and being very pro Microsoft and probably pro Android now.”

      Just one link to prove your fool assertions, please. Just one. Fool.

  • Jerry O’Hara

    The big “Oh My God” event this year that impacted a large number of Apps (and thus the larger than normal incidents) was Apps from China that were used by a Pirated version of Apple’s Xcode. These cheap Chinese developers stole XCode via torrent to be used in production Apps. The pirated Xcode software had backdoor code written in to insert App tracking without the developer realizing this. This was soooo bad even credible Chinese developers were caught up in hack – thus WeChat. So this wasn’t Apple’s problem – nor was it iTunes. I believe Apple has now implemented checks for good Xcode.

    I looked up the other terrible virus/trojan hacks on the iPhone/Mac, and there was no significant event that lead us to believe the Mac is no more secure than it always has been. The other supposed big event was the iTune/iPhoto hack where hackers forced their way into celebrities accounts. The problem was these celebrities used very easy to hack passwords. You can blame Apple for not forcing people to have robust passwords. In the end it still wasn’t Apple’s fault these accounts got hacked.

    More FUD.

    • TheChoketownDangler

      You’re absolutely right. It’s Apple’s idiot customers who are the problem. Obsessed with impressing each other, and outspending the Joneses.

      Morons, all of you.

  • appetite

    In other news, unnamed sources report that if all Mac owners installed third party security software, internet traffic by Macs would slow to a crawl, as would all other Mac activity….

    • TheChoketownDangler

      Are you being paid to say the word “Mac?” Oh, wait, no. You’re paying 3K per machine so you can be forced to upgrade by buying another machine in a year. But you sure look cool and knowledgeable.

      In other news, you’re a fool.

  • hiramwalker

    As the article so tellingly understates, though Apple vulnerabilities have increased, Microsoft and Android’s vulnerabilities have increased by many, many, many more. No figures mentioned here but Apple is thousands of time safer.

    • TheChoketownDangler

      Let’s not forget, Apple is many times more fashionable, and expensive too. No wonder you love this crap so much. I’m sure it impresses all of your ladder-climbing friends.

      That lump in your throat? It’s the crap you swallow from the closed market you so willingly subscribe to in Crapple products.

      Find more money to shovel toward those maggots in Cupertino. One day, they might let you be one of them if you spend enough.

      • hiramwalker

        You spit a lot of hate for my mere mention that no figures were quoted, because if they were they would demonstrate that Android is a sewer of vulnerabilities and malware. Perhaps you should relax and have a drink.

  • Greg Nelson

    Mercury News website must be the worst out there – sensationalism, National Enquirer crap, and overall GARBAGE – this article by alleged tech reporter Wolverton the latest example – he always hypes the worst of the Valley, and loves to quote [paid by?] Symantec, seller of supposed computer prophylactics – sure

    • TheChoketownDangler

      Shill on, fanboy. Don’t let your idiotic product loyalty be slowed by facts. Just keep buying, stupid.

  • papakurt

    Doesn’t matter. I don’t own any Apple junk.