Malware monsters target Apple’s M1 silicon with ‘Silver Sparrow’
Behaves like a legit software installer and phones home for instructions, but lacks a payload
US security consultancy Red Canary says it’s found MacOS malware written specifically for the shiny new M1 silicon that Apple created to power its post-Intel Macs.
Red Canary has named the malware “Silver Sparrow” and says it had found its way onto almost 30,000 MacOS devices as of February 17th.
Once the scripts run, a Mac will have two new and nasty files one of which phones home to the malware’s authors to report it was installed.
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The other script is driven by a persistent LaunchAgent that runs it hourly to connect with a server and request more information from whoever controls the malware.
Red Canary says that hourly request “tells
launchd to execute a shell script that downloads a JSON file to disk, converts it into a
plist, and uses its properties to determine further actions.”
The firm’s researchers ran the malware for a week and never saw that request result in a download, leading them to suggest the malware currently lacks a payload.
How the malware is distributed remains a mystery, but Red Canary’s researchers have divined that it uses resources in AWS and Akamai’s content distribution network. The firms suggests Silver Sparrow’s authors therefore appear to have a decent understanding of how working in a public cloud and CDN makes it harder to defend against malware because organisations often have very good reasons to welcome traffic from large public clouds. ®