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[News] Macs targeted with sophisticated malware

If you own a Mac and think you’re safe from viruses and malware, think again. As reported on the Red Canary blog on February 18, security researchers discovered malware code running on about 30,000 Macs.

Researchers don’t really know what this mysterious malware, dubbed ‘Silver Sparrow’, was intended to do once activated on infected computers, as the code appears to be dormant. As if that wasn’t troubling enough, the code includes what security experts are calling a “self-destruction mechanism” that may allow it to remove itself completely from infected computers. So in theory, like other malware, it could act as ransomware, impair the functioning of your computer, send data back to its creators, or other nefarious actions, and then simply disappear without computer owners being the wiser.

More intriguing still is that the malware runs on both Intel and M1-based Macs, meaning it is very new and running cutting-edge code.

But there’s good news. First, it doesn’t appear to be widespread, so most people likely haven’t been exposed to it. Second, researchers discovered it before it was activated. 

And best of all, researchers don’t believe the majority of Macs were infected with this malware, and since it was discovered, Apple disabled the code required to install it. So odds are, your computer is probably safe.

Having said that, Lifehacker suggests that you consider your recent online activity to make sure you weren’t one of the handful of unlucky Mac users. If in your recent online activity you accidentally downloaded software you didn’t specifically request, with filenames such as “update.pkg” or “updater.pkg,” you might go looking for the following on your system:

~/Library/._insu 

/tmp/agent.sh 
/tmp/version.json 
/tmp/version.plist 

To learn more about what to do if you find these files, or if you’re looking for more information about the malware itself, check out this lengthy ArsTechnica article (and the comments) for more about Silver Sparrow malware and how to remove it.

And if you’re using a Mac and don’t have anti-virus and anti-malware protection, now’s a good time to consider taking that step. Check out our recent article on malware to learn more.

In other news

  • Another Zoom oopsie. All of the members of a school board in northern California ended up resigning after they discovered a private Zoom call wasn’t actually so private. These board members made (or laughed at) several derogatory comments about parents and community members, and only after the fact realized that —uh oh — it was all being live-streamed, and clips started circulating on Twitter. 
  • 3-D printing medical breakthrough. Scientists have already seen some success printing living tissue such as corneas and blood vessels, which they can then implant during surgery. But now they have taken a huge step forward in the ability to 3-D print bones within a living body! Using an ‘ink’ made from calcium phosphate material, they are experimenting with the technology to see if it can repair injuries without the need for bone grafts.
  • Hello from Mars. By now you probably know that NASA has successfully landed the Perseverance Rover on Mars, and it is already on the hunt for signs of ancient life. What you might not know is that Perseverance has its own Twitter account, so if you want to hear from the rover, this is one account you will want to follow!

Tip of the week

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[News] Macs targeted with sophisticated malware .

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