Another new M1 Mac malware has infected thousands of devices

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Researchers have discovered another malware that runs natively on the new Apple M1 Mac (opens in new tab) silicon, and this one seems to be a lot more sinister.

While the first M1 malware (opens in new tab) was a standard adware, security researchers can’t figure out the intentions of this new evolution, which also targets earlier Intel-powered Macs (opens in new tab) too.

“Our investigation almost immediately revealed that this malware, whatever it was, did not exhibit the behaviors that we’ve come to expect from the usual adware that so often targets macOS systems (opens in new tab),” noted Tony Lambert, Intelligence Analyst, at the Red Canary security firm in its post (opens in new tab) on the threat.

Unclear intentions

Dubbed Silver Sparrow, Lambert shares the malware has already infected about 30,000 macOS computers in over 150 countries. 

Collating data about the malware from other security researchers from Malwarebytes (opens in new tab) and VMware Carbon Black, Lambert soon realized that they were dealing with a novel strain of malware.

“The novelty of this downloader (opens in new tab) arises primarily from the way it uses JavaScript (opens in new tab) for execution—something we hadn’t previously encountered in other macOS malware,” shares Lambert. 

In his analysis he notes that the malware calls a command and control server every hour from the infected machine to check for further instructions. Till now the researchers haven’t noticed the malware downloading any malicious payloads, which adds to the mystery of the malware’s true intent. 

“Though we haven’t observed Silver Sparrow delivering additional malicious payloads yet, its forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity suggest Silver Sparrow is a reasonably serious threat, uniquely positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice,” reasons Lambert. 

Via: ZDNet (opens in new tab)

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.