Apple Macs and MacOS are some of the most secure computers and operating systems on the market. But, unfortunately, nothing is bulletproof; the recent rise of Silver Sparrow malware on MacOS has led to tens of thousands of Macs getting infected.
Though this may seem like an alarming situation, there’s no need to worry; you can keep your Mac safe from any threat as long as you know what you’re dealing with.
Now the question is: what exactly is Silver Sparrow malware, and how do you protect your Mac against it? The answer is relatively straightforward, as you’ll see in a moment.
This article will explain everything you need to know about Silver Sparrow malware. So keep on reading to find out how you can secure your Mac from this latest malware threat today!
What is Mac Malware?
Before we explain what exactly Silver Sparrow malware is and how to stay safe against it, it helps to know what malware is on Mac.
Malware, short for ‘malicious software,’ is any kind of harmful computer program or file. In the context of Macs, a Mac malware is any harmful computer program or file that can infect and damage your Mac.
Examples of malware include worms, ransomware, trojans, and viruses, just to name a few. However, all these different types of malware have one thing in common: they harm the user, their Mac, and their network.
What Do The Different Types of Mac Malware Do?
So what exactly does Mac malware do? The answer depends on the type of malware. Adware may be a minor nuisance, but a Trojan can pose a severe threat to your Mac system.
Here are some of the common types of Mac malware and what they do:
The most common type of Mac malware is the computer virus. Viruses are malicious programs that infect a host program, and the Mac user needs to execute the host file for the virus to work. Once they execute, however, they can infect several files on your Mac and cause damage.
Similar to a virus, a worm is another Mac malware that can rapidly multiply and spread to several files on your Mac. However, unlike viruses, worms are self-executing; once a worm infects your Mac, it will execute and spread even if the user doesn’t run a program.
Spyware is another common type of Mac malware. It monitors user’s activities without their knowledge, therefore spying on them. This spying can include collecting the user’s passwords, browsing history, and sensitive data.
The Ancient Greek legend of the Trojan horse tells the tale of a trap disguised as a gift that wreaked havoc on a city. Trojan horses on Mac are very much the same; malware that pretends to be legitimate software. Once you install and execute a Trojan horse on your Mac, it will cause harm to your system.
Though not as harmful as the other Mac malware on this list, adware is annoying nonetheless. It tracks a Mac user’s data, including internet searches, browsing history, and downloads. The adware then displays targeted ads to tempt users into spending money.
There are many other types of Mac malware, but the ones listed above are the most common. So now that you’re up to speed on Mac malware let’s move on to the latest Mac malware threat: Silver sparrow malware.
What Is Silver Sparrow Malware?
Silver sparrow malware is the name given to a new strain of Mac malware. It was first discovered back in February 2021 by the security vendor Red Canary.
Silver Canary is unique because it was the second known Mac malware that could run on Apple’s M1 computer chip. The Apple M1, built on ARM 64-bit architecture, is the latest computer chip by Apple that the company released in November 2020.
How Does Silver Sparrow Malware Work?
According to the Red Canary report, Silver Sparrow is available in two different varieties. Researchers named these binaries of the Silver Sparrow as follows:
- Malware version 1
- Malware version 2
Both these malware versions spread through malware installers dubbed “update.pkg”.
The difference between both Silver Sparrow versions is which architecture they can run on. Specifically, the Malware version 1 Mach-O binary runs on Intel x86_64 architecture, whereas version 2 supports both Intel x86_64 and M1 ARM64 architectures.
Once a Mac user clicks and executes the file, the Silver Sparrow program executes and infects the host Mac computer. It uses Amazon Web Services and Akamai to run its commands, making it difficult to remove.
A Mac infected with Silver Sparrow communicates with a control server once per hour to scan for new commands. Unfortunately, it can also remove itself from an infected Mac, so Silver Sparrow can execute a single damaging command, only to disappear afterward.
Should I Be Worried About Silver Sparrow Malware?
When it first came out, Silver Sparrow infected approximately 30,000 Mac systems in over 153 different countries. Most of the infected Macs were located in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.
Such a high reach is no joke for any Malware, so Silver Sparrow raised some alarm bells when it was first detected. Furthermore, the malware’s capabilities of self-deletion and remote server access were concerning.
That said, Silver Sparrow never actually released its payload. For this reason, even though it infected several Macs, it did not execute any harmful commands.
It’s possible Silver Sparrow was waiting for a specific time or event to release its payload. For example, this event could have been after Silver Sparrow infected a set number of Mac systems or on a specific future date.
Fortunately, the malware’s potential destructive capabilities never saw the light of day; on 23rd February, Apple released an update that revoked the certificates of the developer accounts that signed the Silver Sparrow package files.
So not only has Apple’s update effectively prevented any new MacOS from being infected with the malware but there also hasn’t been a single documented case of Silver Sparrow harming a Mac so far.
If you’re still worried about your Mac being infected with Silver Sparrow or other malware, be sure to check out the list of best Mac Antivirus protection software.
Malware is any harmful computer program or file. Unfortunately, even secure systems like the Mac are not safe from malware, as the rise of the Silver Sparrow malware has indicated otherwise.
The good news is that Silver Sparrow hasn’t released its payload to date and can no longer infect new Mac systems ever since Apple rolled out its update.
Just make sure to install a secure Mac Antivirus software, and you’ll be safe, both from Silver Sparrow and other Mac malware!