16 years of Mac OS X: Secure but not invincible to malware

16 years ago, Mac OS X came to light for the first time. For $129, the then new operating system promised stable, open source and UNIX based experience. As the years passed and the novelty of the version along with them, its security has become one of its most often named features, convincing many Mac users their machine is almost invincible.


However, times have changed and so has malware, which has gradually been adding OS X to its targets. Looking at last year alone, ransomware, data stealers or backdoors have all penetrated the once impenetrable security and claimed thousands of victims.


In March 2016, OSX/KeRanger malware popped up on the radar after infiltrating a single version of legitimate BitTorrent client Transmission. Signed with a legitimate developer certificate, this fully functional crypto-ransomware targeted easy prey – victims who had no security solution in place. Despite being discovered in a matter of hours, KeRanger was able to infect thousands of Mac users.

In February 2017, another type of ransomware – OSX/Filecoder.E – was caught spreading via BitTorrent distribution sites, masqueraded as “Patcher”, an application used for pirating popular software. If a victim downloaded and launched the infected zip file, it took only one click to get the files on their machine encrypted.


OSX/Komplex belonged to a different malware group. It was one of the malicious tools used by a cybercriminal group called Sednit (aka Sofacy). With just three steps it was able to distract the victim and drop an executable in the system, which was guaranteed to be executed at every system start and would finally open a communication channel with the attackers, giving them full access to the compromised computer.

These cases prove that no matter which operating system a user chooses, the concept of 100% security simply doesn’t exist – and that also Mac is of growing interest to malware writers. If you want to learn more about Mac malware seen in the past years, visit our specialist website.

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