Malware Statistics Trends and Facts in 2018

Aviva Zacks
Posted: October 28, 2018

Would you knowingly provide your credit card information to a stranger? Probably not, right? Well, that’s exactly what can happen if your computer is infected with malware.

If you can’t search online, open a basic program, or do anything without a popup or annoying program hijacking your computer, you’re probably infected with malware. That same malware is actively working to damage your computer, it is likely spying on you, and it’s super sticky and hard to remove.

Even though antivirus programs work to detect and remove malware, this type of software is on the rise, infecting more computers than ever.

You need to understand malware trends so you can avoid this threat. This article will show you:

  • Major developments in malware
  • New malware creation trends
  • Comparisons between the major operating systems
  • Malware infection rates by type
  • Infection rates by region and sector

1. Malware Rates Are on the Rise

Total malware infections have been on the rise for the last ten years. Malware is an effective tool for hackers to infect a user’s computer and collect data.

The total number of malware will likely continue to increase as individuals and businesses rely on computers for banking, emails, transmitting sensitive information, and other tasks that malware can actively disrupt.

2. New Malware Rates Are Slowing

New threats are always being created. Development of new threats may increase in order to stay ahead of antivirus programs that can detect and remove current, known threats.

3. New Android Malware Decreasing

Android is the most widely used mobile operating system in the world and its open source nature makes it a popular choice for developers. According to Google, over 2.7 billion people use the platform. Between 2013 and 2017, malware development for Android peaked, however, rates for new Android malware threats—while still outrageously high—are showing signs of slowing.

4. Development of PUA for Android Is Flat

Android PUA developers are still creating new malware for the platform. PUAs saw rapid growth between 2013 and 2016 and the rate of new titles has recently leveled out. This may indicate that PUA malware is less effective than it used to be when compared to viruses, ransomware, and phishing scams, or could demonstrate that currently known PUAs are effective enough that developers have no need to generate new ones.

5. MacOS Malware Is Rapidly Increasing

Apple experts bragged for years that their platform was resistant to viruses, but it’s more likely that developers only went after the platforms with the biggest global market share. Over the last year, MacOS malware has increased by 165%. This means Apple users should prioritize security immediately.

6. MacOS PUA Is Bottoming Out

Despite MacOS malware development increasing, PUA rates have declined by more than 84%. Still, users should be careful since development rates remain high for the operating system.

7. Windows Malware Sees Slight Decrease

For decades, Windows has been the operating system of choice for users, software developers, and hackers alike. While still not eradicated, malware development rates for Windows decreased by 11.6% since reaching an all-time high in 2015. Windows is still the main operating system for most users, and therefore will always be a target for malware.

8. Windows PUAs Are on the Decline

Like MacOS, the rate of new PUAs for Windows has greatly decreased; sophisticated antivirus programs are likely the reason. Windows Defender is pre-installed in newer computers, and it reliably monitors new app installs, detects viruses, and does a reasonably good job of security.

9. The Americas Are Still the Top Target for Major Incidents

Security breaches are still a common theme in North and South America. In the last year, the Equifax breach was one of the biggest attacks to hit the United States and Europe. It is estimated that nearly 148 million consumers were affected.

10. Malware Trumps PUA as Distribution Type

Malware is still the preferred distribution model, used 71.14% of the time over the last 12 months, while PUAs were only used in 28.86% of instances.

11. New JavaScript Malware Rates Are Increasing

New JavaScript malware development has increased over the last year, particularly in Q2. Hackers have found ways to exploit JavaScript on non-secure sites, which means malware is unknowingly downloaded on users’ computers.

Some experts will tell you to turn JavaScript off on your browser but, while this is an option, it will make most websites look unpleasant. Instead, install an antivirus solution that blocks malicious URLs in real-time.

12. Crypto Malware Is Becoming a Thing

Do you remember when Bitcoin hit $20,000 in late 2017? That sudden price boom is the direct cause of increasing crypto jacking malware. This malware doesn’t steal your data like traditional malware. Instead, it harnesses your computer’s processing power and puts your CPU and GPU to work. Infected computers will run slower as they mine cryptocurrency for their hacker.

14. Healthcare is the Most Targeted Sector

Healthcare was once again the most targeted sector for malware, with the public sector coming in second. These two sectors are heavily targeted because of the sensitive information that they handle. Hackers who gain access to this information can learn a lot about the identities of their victims, and use that information against them.

15. GoScanSSH Leading Malware Type Connected to Control Servers

Single target malware isn’t the go-to choice anymore. Malware has evolved over the years and is now managed by sophisticated control servers. Infected computers can be called on by the control server to complete commands, send data, and perform other malicious activities.

Over the last year, GoScanSSH led the way with 52% of all control server usage, followed by the Chinese malware Wapomi at 35%.

16. Gamut Was the Leading Spambot

The Gamut spambot was the most frequently used over the last year, with over 86% of all spambot cases involving its use. Gamut was typically installed through an email attachment. It would self-terminate if it detected it was being run in a virtual environment. Once installed, it would send a user’s information back to the control server. This information spammed the user’s email with unwanted emails in hopes of scamming them further.

17. The U.S. Is Still the Top Botnet Hosting Country

The United States continues to host the most botnet control servers in the world. Over the last year, 36% of these servers were hosted in America, while 24% were hosted in undefined countries. Russia and China hosted a total of five percent and four percent, respectively.

Awareness is the Best Defense Against Malware

Malware is still a significant problem. Now more than ever, hackers are interested in breaking into your accounts, collecting your sensitive information, and stealing from you. While traditional antivirus programs will help you, they can’t always protect you from your own computer behaviors like clicking harmful links or failing to update your software. Stay informed, keep learning about the latest malware, and update your antivirus, browser, and operating system regularly in order to be prepared for tomorrow’s threats.

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About the Author

Aviva Zacks
Aviva Zacks

Aviva Zacks is a content manager, writer, editor, and really good baker. When she's not working, she enjoys reading on her porch swing with a cup of decaf.