Malware, a malicious software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system, is one of the most common cyber threats computer users face today. While malware can affect any operating system, Windows users are among the most vulnerable.
According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, in 2020 alone, devices with Windows operating systems were affected by over 111 million malware infections.
Out of all of the Windows malware threats detected last year, 83% or nearly 92.3 million were found on consumer devices, while 15% or 16.7 million were discovered on business devices. The remaining 2% of the malware cases were unspecified.
Despite the impressive number of Windows malware detections in 2020, such threats actually dropped by 12% compared to 2019.
According to Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, “The decline in Windows malware infections might signify that cybercriminals have found other more effective methods to exploit victims online.”
HackTool is the fastest rising malware threat
In 2020, we saw a fall in malware infections affecting Windows operating systems. However, despite a general decline, certain types of malware thrived last year.
HackTool, a type of malware used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to a user’s computer, saw the biggest increase in new cases detected on Windows last year when compared to 2019. Infections with HackTool spiked by 150%, from 7.4 million to 18.4 million in a single year.
Other malware types that saw a surge last year include Rogue (117%) and Spyware (28%), which help criminals track and collect information on the victim.
However, the most common Windows malware threat last year was adware — software that displays unwanted advertisements on people’s computers. It accounted for 32% or 35.5 million Windows malware cases in 2020, a 22% drop from 45.7 million in 2019.
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