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Adware Is On The Rise For Mac And PC Users: What Employers Should Consider

The Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques, a quarterly report published by Malwarebytes, recently stated that the overall number of cyber threats against consumers is declining. Malwarebytes found that malware-based cryptomining and ransomware declined significantly during the last quarter.

However, cyberattacks against infrastructure and business users, namely "bigger targets offering potentially larger rewards", and attacks targeting Mac users are both on the rise.

Malwarebytes predicts that ransomware will increase in the coming year, but that attacks "will likely be restricted to businesses as hackers save their most potent wares for high-yield targets."

Malware targeting Macs increased 62 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. Adware increased 201 percent, making it the biggest factor in the overall increase in threats against macOS. PCVARK became the most prevalent Mac malware. The adware family NewTab also increased significantly.

Cybercriminals are targeting Mac users with new threats, including backdoors created with open source code, cryptomining malware, Windows executables, and trojans that exploit a Wallet vulnerability to steal Bitcoin and Etherium. Cybercriminals are increasingly using open-source Python code and the Python-based program MITMProxy in their attacks. Malcolm Owen "Mac malware jumps more than 60% in three months, massive uptick in adware" appleinsider.com (Apr. 25, 2019).

Commentary

The cited article above references a more than 200 percent growth in adware against macOS. Adware has always been a threat to PC users.

Adware is a type of malware that opens unwanted ads on your device, generally when you use a web browser. Generally, cybercriminals spread adware through free downloads or websites that are infected with adware.

Consequently, employees should never download software in response to a popup, or free software that is not distributed by a reputable organization. Also, be careful about what websites you visit, as "drive-by download" attacks can infect your device with adware when you simply visit an infected website. Only open legitimate, encrypted websites.

Some signs that your computer or device could be infected with adware, according to Malwarebytes, include advertisements appearing in places they shouldn't; your web browser's homepage changing without your permission; web pages not displaying properly; website links redirecting to unexpected sites; your web browser slowing to a crawl; new toolbars, extensions, or plugins suddenly populating your browser; your Mac or PC automatically installing unwanted software applications; and your browser crashing.

If you believe your computer or device is infected with adware, you should use your security software to run a scan and look for threats. If your software is unable to identify and remove the adware, consult a cybersecurity professional. If you do experience an adware infection, you should change all of your passwords because cybercriminals could have infected your device with spyware along with the adware.  

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