Top countries where users have been affected by the threat include the US (31 percent), India (18.9 percent), Germany (14 percent), France (10 percent) and the UK (10 percent), according to the report.
“The macOS platform is a good source of revenue for cybercriminals, who are constantly looking for new ways to deceive users, and actively use social engineering techniques to spread their malware. This case demonstrates that such threats can be found even on legitimate sites,” said Anton Ivanov, Kaspersky Security Analyst.
“Luckily for macOS users, the most widespread threats that target macOS currently revolve around feeding illicit advertising rather than something more dangerous, such as stealing financial data,” Ivanov said.
The malware specialises in the installation of adware – programmes that terrorise users by feeding illicit ads, intercepting and gathering users’ browser queries, and modifying search results to distribute even more advertising messages.
Shlayer’s share among all attacks on macOS devices registered by Kaspersky products in January – November 2019 amounted to almost a third, with nearly all other top 10 macOS threats being the adware that Shlayer installs: AdWare.OSX.Bnodlero, AdWare. OSX.Geonei, AdWare.OSX.Pirrit and AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.
The infection process often consists of two phases – first the user installs Shlayer, then the malware installs a selected type of adware. Device infection, however, starts with an unwitting user downloading the malicious programme.
In order to achieve installations, the threat actor behind Shlayer sets up a malware distribution system with a number of channels leading users to download the malware.
Kaspersky said in 2019 it prevented attacks carried out by Shlayer at least once on every 10th device using Kaspersky Solutions for Mac.
“A good web security solution can protect users from threats such as these, making the experience of searching the web safe and pleasant,” said Ivanov.