IN A NUTSHELL:
- Red Canary has detected new malware - called Silver Sparrow - that has infected some 30,000 Macintosh computers;
- The malware is compatible with both Intel-based hardware and Macs with M1 CPU;
- It is unknown what the software is used for;
- Apple has removed files used by Silver Sparrow from its operating system to prevent further infections.
Cyber security specialists at Red Canary have detected a new malware, called Silver Sparrow, which has infected at least 29,139 Macintosh computers in 153 countries (via The Hacker News). This includes both Macs based on Intel processors and Apple's new M1 CPUs.
Interestingly, the specific purpose of the mysterious software is unknown at this point. When launched, the program simply displays the message "Hello, World!" but the Macho-O libraries it contains do not appear to affect the computer in any other way. Experts don't know if the files are leftovers from something that has already been exploited and removed, or a preparation for future attacks.
"We have no way of knowing with certainty what payload would be distributed by the malware, if a payload has already been delivered and removed, or if the adversary has a future timeline for distribution.
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," said Red Canary's Tony Lambert.
Red Canary found two variants of Silver Sparrow, but they differ only in the number of platforms with which they are compatible (one version is dedicated exclusively to Macs with Intel Core processors, while the other will work with both them and hardware equipped with M1 CPUs).
In response to the experts' discovery, Apple withdrew the binary files signed by ID developers Saotia Seay and Julie Willey from the system, to prevent the malware from being installed on subsequent computers.
- Apple - official website