Update: Tech giants now says that it has taken steps to restrict the potential damage the malware. These steps effectively prevent any new M1 devices from being infected.
There is a basic belief that the computers of Apple are largely immune to malware. Not only is that wrong, but it also seems that sophisticated hacker(s) may have been playing with the idea of a heist or drop nasty enough they’d have needed to cover their tracks. Security researchers at Malwarebytes and Red Canary found, as Ars Technica reports, a mysterious piece of malware hidden on nearly 30,000 Macs, one designed to deliver an as-yet-unknown payload, and with a mechanism of self-destruction that could erase any trace that ever existed. It’s named the Silver Sparrow.
The own blog post from Red Canary goes into more detail, including how numerous versions were found targeting not only Intel but also newer Macs based on Apple’s own M1 chip, which is quite the thing, considering how new Apple’s M1 computers are and how few vulnerabilities have been discovered yet. It was literally just a week ago, a report about the first piece of malware discovered in the wild targeting Apple Silicon was released by Objective-See security researcher Patrick Wardle, and we have two now.
Thankfully, before being outed, Silver Sparrow was unable to cover its tracks, there is no evidence that it was used to do any harm, and Red Canary reports that the binaries have already been revoked by Apple (which should theoretically keep you from accidentally installing it yourself). But the suggestion that damage may have been done is not theoretical: These strains of malware were reportedly spotted in the wild on Macs.
Researchers warn that the shift of Apple from Intel to its own silicon can make it easier for other bad actors to slip malware through the cracks, too: in this Wired article, you can read quotes from some of them.