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Mac malware threats: minuscule and not keeping up with market share!

In fact, Macintosh malware threats are so few and infrequent that it is hard to get good statistics! :-)

The security company, F-Secure presented an analysis of Macintosh malware released during Q2 through Q4 of 2011. There were ONLY 58 new variants released between April and December of last year, most of which were Trojan horse of backdoor attempts. NONE were viruses or worms! When taken in the context described by the UK security company, DGata, that the number of new malware threats for computers and Web-based services HAS SURPASSED 1,000,000, STARTING IN 2009, “…the overall number of 58 threats is nothing when compared to other platforms.

This HUGE disparity in malware attacks, between the few experienced on the Mac platform and the VAST numbers experienced on OTHER platforms is why I think of malware attacks on users of the Windows platform, especially in large “we-know-more-than-YOU-do” corporations, :-) as “self-inflicted gunshot wounds.”

The CNET article notes that:

Therefore, even though the threat level for OS X is higher than it has been in past years, when compared with the rest of the industry malware on the Mac is almost negligibly minuscule.

Although it might seem “logical” to expect that the number of threats might increase as Macintosh market share increases, “…the data from F-Secure suggests that this may not be the case.” Those of us who have studied the sciences have learned that what SEEMS logical often is NOT, and that it is usually best to go in open-minded, get data from dispassionate observations, and to see what the data tell us. The human brain is not naturally logical, in any case.

Tiny Bubbles

The F-Secure study clearly shows two time frames in which malware was released for Macintosh in 2011: one around June and another around October. F-Secure described these releases as “opportunistic bubbles” surrounded by periods of inactivity. These dynamics of malware activity on the Mac ARE VERY DIFFERENT “… from the steady rise in the Mac’s market share in the past year, which according to NetApplications has increased by 17 percent from February 2011 to 6.36 percent worldwide, and which has recently surpassed 12 percent in the U.S., according to Gartner.”

Like any good scientific study, the F-Secure study “hedges its bets” by noting that the TINY sample size of 58 threats against a background of MILLIONS makes it difficult to say whether the bubbles of malware releases may merge into an increasing trend in the future. :-) I’LL say!

The CNET article concludes:

“Overall while these observations are interesting, ultimately it is important to keep in mind that despite the reports of malware throughout the past year, the level of malware for OS X continues to be minuscule when compared with the millions of malware programs released through the year.”

Overall, the data make it harder and harder to be charitable to Windows users in the face of such overwhelming evidence, :-) but I have decided to continue a personal program of EDUCATION, and to let the numbers speak for themselves! Except for corporations (and government agencies), of course, some of which are BEYOND education….

-Bill at

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