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Mysterious malware was found on nearly 30,000 Macs – here’s what to know

Silver Sparrow, the name of the malware, doesn’t seem to do anything… yet.

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Image: Unsplash

Whatever you’ve heard to the contrary, Macs can get viruses and malware, and the number of attacks on the platform is increasing. The latest widespread piece of malware was found by Malwarebytes and Red Canary, who found almost 30,000 Macs worldwide with this new piece of malicious code.

What’s unusual about this particular malware is that it doesn’t appear to do anything (yet). Once an hour, “Silver Sparrow” as it’s been named, checks an offsite server address to see if it has any instructions to run. None of the Macs found so far have any indication that the control server gave any instructions to the malware, so the researchers are left confused as to what this malware is meant to do.

The malware is also notable for coming in two variants, one created for Intel-based Macs, and one for Apple’s own M1 chip. That makes it the second known piece of macOS malware to target the new M1 architecture.

Silver Sparrow also has a kill-switch, that can erase itself from the machine. That’s a complicated process usually reserved for high-profile, high-stealth operations, so maybe this is a test case for more targeted operations in the future.

While this time, it doesn’t appear that any of the malware installs ran a secondary payload, that could change. If you want to make sure you don’t have Silver Sparrow on your Mac, Red Canary’s blog post has what to look for on your Mac, right at the bottom.

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