Malwarebytes has published a new study that suggests threat detection levels for macOS are increasing in comparison to Windows. The data shows that overall, Mac threats accounted for more than 16% of total Malwarebytes detections.

The report explains that on Windows, Malwarebytes saw 4.2 detections per device, while Mac users saw 9.8 detections per device.

The most interesting statistic that emerged from our data was how many Mac detections we saw per machine in 2019. On Windows, we saw 4.2 detections per device this year. Our Mac users, on the other hand, saw 9.8 detections per device—more than double the amount of detections than Windows users.

Mac threats also accounted for 16% of total detections. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but the important factor to consider is the overall size of the Mac user base compared to Windows.

Perhaps 16 percent doesn’t sound impressive, but when you consider the number of devices on which these threats were detected, the results become extremely interesting. Although the total number of Mac threats is smaller than the total number of PC threats, so is the total number of Macs. Considering that our Mac user base is about 1/12 the size of our Windows user base, that 16 percent figure becomes more significant.

There are a few important things to note when interpreting this data, though. First and foremost, these statistics are based solely on devices with Malwarebytes installed. Windows users are more likely to assume they need antivirus software from the start, while Mac users are more likely to install antivirus software after already suspecting their machine is infected. This is why the detections per machine number is higher for Mac than Windows.

Ultimately, Malwarebytes acknowledges that “the overall threat detection rate for all Macs (and not just those with Malwarebytes installed) is likely not as high as this data sample.”

Furthermore, the report also says that “traditional, full malware does exist for Mac” but it is often “more targeted or otherwise limited in scope.” Instead, the Mac detections consist “primarily” of adware and potentially unwanted programs. Thus, there might be a higher rate of detections on Mac, but each detection is less severe than what might be detected on Windows.

Read the full report from Malwarebytes here.

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