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The first malware running natively on an M1 chip was discovered

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Malware has been discovered that has been specially tuned to run on Apple’s M1 chip. This indicates that malware authors have begun to apply malicious software to Apple’s new generation Macs with Apple Silicon.

Mac security researcher Patrick Wardle has published a report quoted by Wired. This report details how malware began to adapt and recompile to run natively on the “M1” chip.

Wardle discovered the first known native “M1” malware in the form of a Safari adware extension originally written to run on Intel x86 chips. A malicious extension called “GoSearch 22” is a well-known member of the “Pirrit” Mac adware family and was first discovered at the end of December. Pirrit is one of the oldest and most active Mac adware families and is known to be constantly changing to avoid detection, so it’s no surprise that it has already begun to adapt to the M1. is.

GoSearch22 adware appears as a legitimate Safari browser extension, but delivers a number of ads such as banners and pop-ups, including those that collect user data and link to malicious websites to further propagate malware. To do. According to Wardle, the adware was signed with an Apple Developer ID in November, further hiding malicious content, but was subsequently revoked.

Wardle says that the “M1” malware is still in its infancy, so antivirus scanners can’t detect it as easily as the x86 version, and defense tools such as antivirus engines struggle to handle modified files. Stated. The signatures used to detect threats from malware on the ‌M1‌chip have not yet been virtually observed, so security tools are not yet available to detect and handle them.

Researchers at security firm Red Canary have told Wired that other types of native “M1” malware have also been discovered and are being investigated, which are different from Wardle’s findings.

At the moment, only the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini have Apple silicon chips, but this technology is expected to expand across the Mac lineup over the next two years. Given that all new Mac computers are expected to have Apple silicon chips like the “M1” in the near future, it’s a little less likely that malware developers will eventually start targeting Apple’s new machines. I couldn’t.

The M1 native malware discovered by researchers does not seem to be unusual or particularly dangerous, but the emergence of these new types serves as a warning that more may occur in the future.

For more information on the first M1 native malware, see Wardle’s full report.

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