Linux malware on a rise reaching all-time high in H1 2022

Ruth C. | July 27, 2022

Until recently, cybercriminals have largely ignored Linux compared to other more popular operating systems. However, the new data shows that cyber attack trends are shifting.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, the number of new Linux malware reached record highs in the first half of 2022, as nearly 1.7 million samples were discovered. 

Compared to the same period last year, when 226,324 samples were found, new Linux malware numbers soared by close to 650%. 

The analysis is based on the malware threat statistics by AV-ATLAS, a threat intelligence platform from AV-TEST Gmb. Additionally, operating system market share data is based on figures provided by Statcounter Global Stats.

If we look at the new Linux malware sample numbers quarter by quarter, in the first quarter of this year, they dropped by 2%, from 872,165 in Q4 2021 to 854,688 in Q1 2022. Moving on to the second quarter, the malware samples decreased again, this time by 2.5% to 833,059. 

Yet the cumulative number of new Linux malware samples in H1 2022 was 31% higher than the number of such samples in the whole year of 2021. In fact, the first half of this year alone saw more new Linux malware samples than any other year since 2008. Out of all the months, April had the highest number of new samples — 400,931.

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New Windows malware still leads the way 

Although Linux was the only operating system that saw growth in new malware samples in the first half of this year, Windows had the most significant number of new malware applications overall. 

In total, 41.4 million newly-programmed Windows malware samples were identified in H1 2022. Compared to H1 2021, when such staples stood at 63.8 million, they diminished by 35%.

Although Linux holds only 1% of the operating system market share, it occupies the second spot on the list with 1.7 million malware in H1 2022.

Meanwhile, the most popular operating system, Android, had 716,201 newly developed malware samples in H1 2022. It also experienced the biggest drop in malware samples compared to last year of 58%.

Finally, macOS was targeted by 4,922 new malware samples in the first half of 2022 — a 32% decline from 7,269 in H1 2021.  

Android occupies 44% of the operating systems market share, while Windows and OS X have 29% and 6%, respectively.

All in all, while Linux is not as popular among computer users as other operating systems, it runs the back-end systems of many networks, making attacks on Linux highly lucrative. As Linux adoption rises, so will attacks against it.

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Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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