Increasing phishing attacks targeting Apple operating systems

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The number of phishing attacks targeting Mac users, iOS laptops and the related web service ecosystem reached 1,600,000 in the first half of 2019.

This figure is 9% higher than the attacks in 2018 overall. The growing number of users of popular digital devices is clearly attracting more and more digital criminals. This is one of the key findings of Kaspersky’s report on the threats that macOS users face in 2019.

While the volume of malware threatening macOS users and iOS platforms is much lower than that for Windows and Android platform users, when it comes to phishing attacks, things are quite different. As they are based on social engineering, most digital attacks have nothing to do with software.

The research is based on threat statistics voluntarily shared by users of the “Kaspersky Security Network”; a global cloud infrastructure designed to respond to emerging digital threats immediately.

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Among the most common fraudulent mechanisms are those designed to resemble the iCloud interface to steal logins for Apple ID accounts. Links to such services usually come from spam emails presented as emails from technical support departments. They often threaten to block the user’s device if they do not click on the link.

Another widespread system is the use of alarm websites that try to convince the user that their computer is in serious security danger and will only take a few clicks and a few dollars to solve these issues.

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In addition to the increase in phishing attacks, the report also revealed other types of threats targeting users of macOS-based devices. The results have shown some relatively positive trends: the most common threats to Mac users have proven to be not extremely dangerous malware, such as banking Trojans, but AdWare threats, which are not -necessarily- fatal and are defined as “potentially unwanted programs”. Most adware threatens users by overloading their devices with unwanted ads, however some of these programs can, in fact, turn into disguised, more serious threats.

The total number of phishing attacks detected in the first half of 2019 on Mac computers protected by Kaspersky’s solutions was nearly 6,000,000. In 2018, a total of 7,300,000 hits were recorded. 39.95% of them aimed to steal users’ financial data. This size is 10 percentage points higher than in the first half of 2018. The most active malware was variants of the Shlayer family, which succeeded in distribution under the pretext of Adobe Flash Player updates.

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