Recent Kaspersky reports reveal a notable uptick in phishing attacks targeting Apple’s MacOS and iOS, challenging the perception of these devices as immune to cyber threats when compared to Windows and Android. While the overall volume of malicious attacks on Apple devices is lower, cybercriminals are increasingly turning to phishing due to its platform-agnostic nature and high effectiveness.
Kaspersky’s “Threats to Mac Users 2019” report discloses a significant rise in phishing attacks, totaling 1.6 million in the first half of 2019 – a 9% increase from the entire 2018. Unlike traditional malware, phishing relies on social engineering rather than software vulnerabilities.
The report identifies the most prevalent phishing scheme impersonating iCloud services, with attackers sending fraudulent emails claiming to be from Apple technical support. These emails prompt users to click on links for verification, posing a serious threat to account credentials and personal information.
Notably, phishing attacks are not exclusive to email; they often serve as a gateway for more advanced threats like Man-In-The-Middle attacks and Cross-Site Scripting. Kaspersky’s research highlights the danger of users encountering fake websites, exploiting the perception that Apple devices are generally safer.
Regional variations in phishing attacks are evident, with Brazil experiencing the highest percentage (30.9%) of affected users, followed by India (22.1%) and France (22%). The Shlayer malware family, disguised as Adobe Flash Player updates, emerged as the most active threat against macOS users.
Tatyana Sidorina, a security researcher at Kaspersky, emphasizes the severity of phishing attacks, noting that cybercriminals can gain access to iCloud account credentials, enabling them to remotely block or wipe iPhones and iPads. Users are urged to exercise caution with emails claiming to be from technical support and requesting personal details or clicks on suspicious links.
The report also highlights a shift in threat patterns for macOS users, with AdWare threats surpassing critically dangerous malware. While AdWare may overload devices with unwanted advertisements, some instances may conceal more severe threats.
Key findings from the report include a total of almost 6 million phishing attacks detected in the first half of 2019, with 39.95% aimed at stealing financial data. Brazil, India, and France stand out as regions with higher percentages of macOS users affected by phishing.
As the number of Apple device users continues to grow, Kaspersky’s report underscores the evolving landscape of cyber threats, urging heightened awareness and caution among users to mitigate the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks.
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