Almost all new malware is targeting Windows

Cybercriminals are releasing hundreds of thousands of new malware strains every day, with a huge proportion exclusively targeting Windows users, a new report has claimed.

Researchers from Atlas VPN using statistics published by AV-TEST GmbH concluded that in the first three quarters of 2022, there had been a total of 62.29 million new malware sample detections, or roughly 228,164 new variants every day.

Of that number, 59.58 million new malware samples were designed to target the Windows operating system, which amounts to 95.6%. Linux malware took up second place (1.76 million samples/2.8%), while the top three rounded off with Android.

According to Atlas VPN, the mobile OS has seen 938,379 new threats between Q1 and Q2 2022, or 1.5% – and for macOS, researchers found 8,329 never before seen variants. 

The key reason why cybercriminals are so focused on Windows is its popularity, researchers claim. Microsoft’s operating system is by far the most dominant desktop product out there, holding roughly 30% of the global market share. According to Statcounter’s global stats, Android holds 43.47% of the market share, iOS 17.25%, and Linux 1.08%.

Despite the horrid stats, the outlook is not as grim as it may seem. The researchers are saying that compared to the same period last year, the number of new malware strains has actually declined significantly – by more than a third (34%). 

Of all the different variants, ransomware remains the most destructive, and thus the most popular. Other popular variants include infostealers (capable of stealing stored passwords, credit card information, key strokes and screenshots), cryptocurrency miners (also known as cryptojackers) and bots (using the compromised endpoints to launch distributed denial of service attacks, which could be sold as a service).

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