Hackers seem to have wasted little time targeting Apple's recently launched Mac computers with the new M1 chip.
Colorado-based security company Red Canary claims to have detected malware on nearly 30,000 Mac computers worldwide, although experts are currently trying to pinpoint its exact purpose.
The malware, dubbed "Silver Sparrow", is described as a "previously undiscovered strain" despite targeting a different version of Intel-made devices, according to Red Canary.
According to Arstechnica, researchers have found that the mysterious malware is set up to check a control server once an hour. This will help determine if there are any new commands to run the malware. So far, however, no commands or user data appear to have been sent to the infected computers, so experts are wondering what may be on the way.
The malicious software also includes a self-destruct feature that allows it to remove itself from a computer when prompted to do so.
According to Red Canary, Silver Sparrow infected 29,139 Mac computers in 153 countries on Feb.17, according to California security firm Malwarebytes, with cases mostly concentrated in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany.
According to Red Canary, as far as we know today, the malware represents a "fairly serious threat" to infected Mac computers.
“While we haven't seen Silver Sparrow deliver additional malicious payloads, its advanced compatibility with M1 chips, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational readiness suggest that Silver Sparrow poses a reasonably serious threat to be found in in a unique position to have potentially effective impact payload in brief, ”Red Canary said in a blog post detailing what he knew about the malware so far.
It added, “The ultimate target of this malware is a mystery. We cannot know for sure what payload will be distributed by the malware, whether a payload has already been delivered and removed, or whether the adversary has a future schedule for distribution. Based on data that Malwarebytes shared with us, the nearly 30,000 affected hosts did not download what would be the next or last payload. "
The company's release details how Silver Sparrow was detected using scans that can also reveal other macOS threats.
Many people may still believe that Apple made computers will not receive malware. This is of course not the case. Hence, Mac owners should be sure they have the proper protection in place to ensure that their computers have the best chance of keeping hackers at bay.
TO UPDATE: Apple has reportedly taken steps to prevent additional Mac computers from becoming infected with the malware.