Phishers eye MacOS devices

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The number of phishing attacks targeting users of iOS devices and the associated Web services ecosystem has reached 1.6 million in the first half of 2019 – a figure about 9% greater than attacks experienced during the whole of 2018.

This was one of the findings of a Kaspersky ‘Threats to macOS users’ report. Although the volume of malicious software threatening the iOS mobile platform is significantly lower than those threatening Windows and Android platforms, when it comes to platform-agnostic cyberthreats, things look quite different.

The research is based on threat statistics voluntarily shared by users of Kaspersky Security Network – a global cloud infrastructure designed for immediate response to emerging cyberthreats.

According to the company, phishing attacks depend heavily on social engineering, which means most have nothing to do with software. In fact, the report revealed that certain regions had more macOS users hit by phishing than others.

The most common phishing schemes are ones that mimic the iCloud service interface, aimed at stealing credentials to Apple ID accounts. Links to these services usually originate from spam e-mails pretending to be e-mails from technical support, and often threaten to block user accounts should they not click the link. 

Another popular scheme is the use of scaremongering pages that attempt to convince the user that their machine is under serious threat and it will only take a couple of clicks and a few dollars to solve the issue.

Tatyana Sidorina, security researcher at Kaspersky, says although technically these attacks are nothing new, Kaspersky believes they pose an even greater danger to Apple users than similar schemes against users of other platforms, because the ecosystem around Apple devices is generally thought of as a far safer environment, and users are naturally less cautious.

“Meanwhile the successful theft of iCloud account credentials could lead to serious consequences – an iPhone or iPad could be remotely blocked or wiped by a malicious user, for example. We urge users of Apple devices to pay more attention to any emails they receive, especially those claiming to be from technical support and requesting the user’s details or asking the user to visit a link,” she adds.

The report also delved into other types of threats to users of macOS-based devices. The most common threats to Mac users are not critically dangerous malware, such as banking Trojans, but rather AdWare, which is less harmful.

To protect macOS devices, Kaspersky recommends keeping macOS and all apps and programs up to date, and encourages users to only use legitimate software, downloaded from official Web pages or installed from the Mac App Store. Finally, a reliable solution that delivers advanced protection on Mac, as well as on PC and mobile devices is essential.

Other findings of the report include

  • The total number of phishing attacks detected in the first half of 2019 on Mac computers protected by Kaspersky solutions was almost 6 million. The whole of 2018 saw 7.3 million hits.
  • Some 40% of the detected attacks were aimed at stealing users’ financial data. That is 10% more than in the first half of 2018.
  • Some regions had more macOS users hit by phishing than others: Brazil leads this list with 31% of users attacked, followed by India with 22% and South Africa with 17.5%.
  • The most active malware to hit macOS users were variations of the Shlayer family, that succeeded in distribution by disguising itself as Adobe Flash Player updates.


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