Apple has recently released its laters innovative product: a home-grown, ARM-based processor to be used in its upcoming MacBook, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini models. The new system-on-a-chip has been hailed as a great step forward, offering more than enough processing power to handle pretty much every usual task while reducing the system’s power consumption to a minimum.
Apparently, though, with the launch of this new platform, Apple also launched a new front into the constant race against malware: just months after the release of the M1 chip, two strains of malware emerged that were rewritten specifically to target Apple’s new product line.
Normally, Apple is considered to be more risk-free than the usual systems running Windows on a chip with an x86 architecture. Malware on Macs is usually rare, far less common than it is on Windows-powered machines – perhaps because the high price tag of Macs and Macbooks makes them less common among everyday users. This is changing, though, before our eyes: Apple computers are becoming increasingly mainstream, more common in pretty much every area, every country of the world.
Today, it’s not unusual to see a student use a MacBook Air to play games at a live casino India in a park, on a train or in a similar public place. iMacs are showing up in an ever-increasing number of offices and public services. Macs are no longer the ‘elite’ systems used by the rich – they are increasingly common, used for everything from internet banking to playing casino games online.
The malware to go with it
As such, we’ve recently seen an ever-increasing number of harmful pieces of code aimed specifically at Apple users. Some attackers have, apparently, made it their goal to circumvent Apple’s latest efforts to improve security with adware, even ransomware built with Apple computers in mind.
Built for the M1
Recently, security specialists have discovered not one, but two pieces of malware built specifically with Apple’s new M1 chip in mind. One of them is GoSearch22, a browser extension, originally intended to run on x86 chips, that was redeveloped specifically for Apple’s M1, discovered by researcher Patrick Wardle this February.
The other, under investigation by security firm Red Canary, is a yet unnamed example of malware developed specifically for Apple’s brand new M1 processor family.
Considering how important a future the M1 chip has in Apple’s plans, it was just a question of time for us to see malware written with it in mind. The problem is, nobody expected it to emerge this fast. The first example of M1 malware was uploaded to VirusTotal last December, a little over a month after the first M1 laptops shipping.