Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Mysterious Mac Malware Infected at Least 30,000 Devices Worldwide

Researchers at managed detection and response firm Red Canary have come across a mysterious piece of Mac malware that appears to have infected at least 30,000 devices around the world.

Researchers at managed detection and response firm Red Canary have come across a mysterious piece of Mac malware that appears to have infected at least 30,000 devices around the world.

Red Canary has analyzed the threat in collaboration with Malwarebytes, whose data showed — as of February 17 — 29,139 infected macOS systems across 153 countries, including many in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany. The activity cluster has been named Silver Sparrow.

Researchers have come across two variants of the malware, including one designed to run on devices powered by Apple’s new M1 chip, which uses the arm64 CPU architecture.

Another piece of malware specifically designed to target devices with M1 chips is a variant of the Pirrit adware and it was detailed last week by Apple security expert Patrick Wardle. The sample analyzed by Wardle was uploaded to Google’s malware analysis service VirusTotal in late December 2020.

In the case of Silver Sparrow, an actual malware file for M1 systems was submitted to VirusTotal on January 22, but one of the domains it used was registered on December 5. The earliest known variant of the malware — one designed to target pre-M1 systems — was apparently created sometime in August 2020.

In addition to being designed to target computers with M1 chips, Silver Sparrow is interesting because its installer packages use the macOS Installer JavaScript API to execute commands. Red Canary says this appears to be the first piece of malware that does this — it’s not uncommon for legitimate software to do it, but malicious macOS software typically uses preinstall or postinstall scripts for command execution.

Interestingly, despite infecting a significant number of machines, researchers have not seen any payload being delivered by the Silver Sparrow malware, making the threat actor’s goals unclear, but they believe it to be an “operationally mature adversary.”

The malware has been delivered as PKG files, but the initial distribution method is currently unknown.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“We suspect that malicious search engine results direct victims to download the PKGs based on network connections from a victim’s browser shortly before download. In this case we can’t be certain because we don’t have the visibility to determine exactly what caused the download,” Red Canary researchers explained.

Red Canary believes that while Silver Sparrow doesn’t currently have a payload, it is “uniquely positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.”

Red Canary has made available indicators of compromise (IoC) and other technical details that can be useful to defenders and threat hunting teams.

Related: XCSSET Mac Malware Steals Information, Spreads via Xcode Projects

Related: Several New Mac Malware Families Attributed to North Korean Hackers

Related: ThiefQuest Mac Malware Includes Ransomware, Data Theft Capabilities

Related: Repurposing Mac Malware Not Difficult, Researcher Shows

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join us as we delve into the transformative potential of AI, predictive ChatGPT-like tools and automation to detect and defend against cyberattacks.


As cybersecurity breaches and incidents escalate, the cyber insurance ecosystem is undergoing rapid and transformational change.


Expert Insights

Related Content


The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.


As it evolves, web3 will contain and increase all the security issues of web2 – and perhaps add a few more.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...


Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group informed some customers last week that their online accounts had been breached by hackers.


Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.


Satellite TV giant Dish Network confirmed that a recent outage was the result of a cyberattack and admitted that data was stolen.

Artificial Intelligence

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.


A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...