MacBook Air - Flickr

There has been a substantial increase this year in malicious software that affects Apple’s OS X operating system according to MarketWatch, GlobeNewswire and security firm Bit9 + Carbon Black. A 10-week analysis conducted by Bit9 + Carbon Black demonstrated the unprecedented growth in OS X malware. In 2015 alone, the research found that the number of OS X malware samples has been five times greater than in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined.

The Bit9 + Carbon Black Threat Research Team collected more than 1,400 unique OS X malware samples. The samples were aggregated from a variety of sources including the team’s independent research efforts, open sources, experience from incident response engagements involving OS X, peer research and black lists.

Compared to Microsoft users, Mac users have historically been immune to malware, but that is definitely changing. “Evidence of a more malicious OS X marketplace is clearly compounding and we confidently expect Mac OS X malware attacks to accelerate in the coming months,” explains Mike Sconzo, Bit9 + Carbon Black’s senior threat researcher. This acceleration is due in part to the growing popularity of Macs in the work environment which is providing a larger target for creators of malware.

For its analysis, the Bit9 + Carbon Black Threat Research Team utilized a custom-built sandbox to quickly identify common actions performed by malware, such as file creations and network communications. This enabled the team to look at command-and-control infrastructure as well as artifacts left as part of the malware execution. For more information, see Mac Malware Report.


Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

(Photo: MacBook Air, Flickr)