Not even three months into Apple’s release of new computers powered by the Apple M1 processor, researchers have discovered at least two malware platforms that seems to have been specifically written to target Apple’s new CPU. One of the new apps, “GoSearch22” is actually a recompiled version of a known adware app called “Pirrit”. The new M1 variant has already been decertified by Apple, meaning that it will be blocked from running in the OS if your Mac is current on updates. The other malware app, dubbed “Silver Sparrow” appears to be brand new and is showing up on at least 30K Macs both M1 and Intel-powered machines, but at the moment, researchers aren’t quite sure what it’s intended to do.
What this means for you
For the majority of Windows users this is not relevant and you can carry on worrying about the myriad other security concerns that the platform is infamous for, but if you happen to use Apple computers for your daily work, take note. At the moment, Silver Sparrow isn’t doing anything except existing and looking very suspicious. It may never be deployed – think of it as a sleeper agent whose cover has been blown. The fact that it exists and a version of it written explicitly for Apple’s new M1 CPU means that cybercriminals are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of exploiting every internet connected device. Where before Apple users could work knowing that because of their relatively small market share they were unprofitable targets for malware developers and as a result slightly more secure than their Windows brethren, this is clearly no longer the case. OS X is definitely being targeted by mature, sophisticated adversaries. While security through obscurity was never a good enough reason to not run malware protection on OS X, it’s definitely been invalidated by the sudden and widespread appearance of Silver Sparrow. Make sure you are running up to date and effective malware on your Mac, old or new. If you don’t know what to install, contact us for advice or a managed solution.