Hackers are concentrating on developing mobile malware that targets Android devices, but Apple malware infections are increasing. Furthermore, security researchers are predicting Apple malware infections will grow steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

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Apple malware infections are on the increase

Over the course of the past 12 months the number of Apple malware infections have doubled, and the problem is only likely to get worse for users of iOS devices according to security researchers.

Last year, researchers at Symantec discovered between 10,000 and 70,000 new Apple malware infections every month. This year there has been a 7-fold increase in malicious software infections affecting Apple OS X computers up until the end of September. Symantec has already discovered 400,363 Macs that have been infected with malware.

The researchers did point out that only 10 new types of Apple-infecting malware have been discovered so far this year, with the bulk of the OS X malware infections involving “grayware”. These are not purposely designed malicious software programs, rather apps that are capable of serving malicious adverts or tracking user behavior.

New malicious software that targets iOS is increasing, but only 7 new types of malware have been discovered by Symantec so far this year. That should be compared with the 9,839 new mobile malware variants that have been discovered to be targeting target Android devices.

There is a growing malware problem, but Apple remains the safest mobile platform

Users of Apple devices have had it easy for many years. Hackers have developed malware capable of infecting Apple devices, but there are far bigger gains to be had from developing malware that targets Windows and Android devices. The majority of iOS malware can also only infect devices that have been jailbroken, so most users remain relatively safe.

Apple’s share of the mobile device market is relatively small, and while the number of units expected to be shipped in the next 5 years is expected to grow, so too will the number of Android devices. IDC has predicted there will be a 2.2% drop in Apple’s market share over the course of the next 5 years, although with  237 million to 274.5 million Apple devices expected to be shipped, there will be plenty of devices for hackers to attack. In fact, in 2015, Apple device ownership is expected to grow by 23% according to IDC.

No need to panic just yet, but there is cause for concern

It is not yet time to panic, but there is growing concern over the number of Apple malware infections that are now being discovered. The majority of new mobile device malware now being discovered targets Android devices, and Apple remains the safest choice. What is clear is iOS and OS X are no longer as safe as they were once believed to be, and users of Apple devices should not become complacent.

Infections are possible and any user of a jailbroken Apple device who fails to take precautions against malicious software could well live to regret that decision.