Mac virus boom: +1000% in one year

Never so much macOS malware in circulation as in 2020: according to Atlas VPN data, there were at least 674,273 copies of viruses circulating last year.

That 2020 was a year to forget for computer viruses has now been amply demonstrated by numerous studies and abundant statistics, but a new report highlights an even more alarming aspect: last year there was a virus boom for Mac computers. Literally: + 1,092%, according to the numbers published today by Atlas VPN.

A growth of more than a hundred times compared to 2019, then, with a difference between one year and another that had never been seen: it is record both as an absolute number and as growth in just 12 months. Sure, Windows viruses are still many more, but such a growth in the macOS world makes you wonder. Also because hackers have long practically ignored Apple's computer operating system, focusing their efforts on developing malware for the iOS mobile system. According to Atlas VPN, however, the trend has now changed: creating effective viruses for iOS is much more difficult than creating viruses for macOS, and hackers have adapted.

Malware for macOS: 2020 numbers

According to Atlas VPN's report, 674,273 copies of macOS viruses were discovered in circulation in 2020, compared to just 56,556 copies in 2019. The term "copies" does not mean that more than six hundred thousand Macs were infected, but that antiviruses detected so many times an infection attempt with a virus developed for macOS. The previous record for Mac malware intercepted in a single year was in 2018, when 92,570 were found. In 2020, on the other hand, there were as many as 1,847 threats per day on average.

According to Atlas VPN, this great growth is due to the fact that by now you don't need great computer skills to try to infect a device (the speech is valid for Macs, PCs and even Android and iOS smartphones): it is in fact possible to buy them, or better rent them by time, from those who develop and sell them on the Dark Web.

Malware for Windows: the 2020 numbers

Atlas VPN also counted the copies of viruses for Windows circulating last year. The numbers are quite different, of a different scale: 91 million copies of malware circulating in 2020, compared to 89 million in 2019, a small growth of 2.22%.

This is also the highest number since Atlas VPN tracks infections, that is, since 2012. Moreover, according to the company that develops the navigation software under Virtual Private Network, the total cost of hacker attacks with malware in 2020 touched the astronomical figure of a trillion dollars, equal to 1% of the world's GDP.