Malware for Apple devices has never been as threatening on the surface. A lot more malicious code is made for Windows machines, as the Microsoft operating systems are used on a larger number of machines compared to Apple systems. However, malware for Macs is increasingly becoming more popular as more people continue to get into the Apple Ecosystem.
Now, the first malware for Mac systems based on Apple’s new M1 chip has just been discovered. The malware, discovered by Mac security researcher Patrick Wardle, puts M1-based devices like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini at potential risk.
Wardle mentions that the malware disguises itself as a Safari adware extension. Originally built for the Intel x86 chips, the malware has now been redeveloped for M1 systems. Called “GoSearch22”, the malware is a member of the notorious Pirrit Mac adware family.
Wardle, who also develops open-source Mac security tools said that “this shows that malware authors are evolving and adapting to keep up with Apple’s latest hardware and software,” in his report, adding that “as far as I know, this is the first time we’ve seen this”.
The GoSearch22 adware can track user data and harvest it. The code is known to throw a large number of ads on the user’s screen including banners and popups. These pop-ups could send the user to other malicious sites that could then infect machines further.