Hackers didn’t use to bother with Apple. There were simply more users and vulnerabilities to exploit on Windows and Android. But that’s starting to change with the rising popularity of Apple products.
Security firm Symantec noticed a sharp increase in attacks targeting Mac OS X and iOS devices in 2015. In the first nine months of the year, it detected 400,363 Macs running OS X that were infected with malware, a 1,900% spike over the same period in 2014.
Symantec, in a white paper released Dec. 8, said many of these infections are caused by “grayware,” apps that aren’t malicious by design, such as advertising-supported software, but do potentially harmful things like track user behavior. The actual number of new threats on the Mac operating system only totals 10 in the year to date, a 15% year-over-year increase.
It’s a similar story with iOS. There is still very little malware on the platform—Symantec detected just seven new threats in the year to date—but this is more than twice the number of threats in 2014 and the highest number registered since 2009, the earliest data from Symantec. In contrast, the firm logged 9,839 cumulative Android malware variants in 2014. That year, it said 17% of Android apps were malware in disguise.
Despite the recent increase, there’s little to worry about for the vast majority of iPad and iPhone owners. Of the 13 iOS threats that Symantec has detected so far, nine can only infect jailbroken devices. But Symantec is hoping the new numbers will force Apple to be more diligent about security to protect its users—that, or persuade Mac customers to buy its antivirus software.