Sophisticated 'Xagent' Malware for Stealing Passwords and iPhone Backups Now Targets Mac Users

by

A new version of Xagent, malware reportedly created by Russian hacking group APT28, has been discovered, and this version targets Mac users.

As outlined in a blog post by antivirus company Bitdefender (via Ars Technica), Xagent has previously been used to infiltrate Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux devices, but now Macs are vulnerable to attack as well. This is the first version of Xagent that's believed to be able to infiltrate Macs.


The Mac version of Xagent is described as a backdoor that can be customized to do things like log passwords, detect system configurations, execute files, take screenshots of the display, and access iOS backups stored on the Mac.

The sample we are discussing today has been linked to the Mac OSX version of Xagent component from Sofacy/APT28/Sednit APT. This modular backdoor with advanced cyber-espionage capabilities is most likely planted on the system via the Komplex downloader.

Once successfully installed, the backdoor checks if a debugger is attached to the process. If it detects one, it terminates itself to prevent execution. Otherwise, it waits for an Internet connection before initiating communication with the C&C servers.

After the communication has been established, the payload starts the modules. Our preliminary analysis shows most of the C&C URLs impersonate Apple domains.

APT28 is the cyberespionage group that has been accused of hacking into the U.S. Democratic National Committee last year and interfering with the 2016 presidential election.

Bitdefender isn't entirely sure how the Mac version of Xagent is being distributed to users, but it could be spread via a macOS malware downloader called Komplex, which exploits a vulnerability in the virus-like MacKeeper software. Research on the malware is ongoing.

Mac users concerned about Xagent should avoid downloading anything that doesn't come from the Mac App Store or a well-known developer.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
47 months ago
A malware discussion is political? Everyone should be able to comment on this.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
47 months ago
Maybe it is time that MacKeeper is classified as malware by anti-malware applications ...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
47 months ago

Maybe it is time that MacKeeper is classified as malware by anti-malware applications ...

It is. MalwareBytes deletes it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
47 months ago

Mac users concerned about Xagent should avoid downloading anything that doesn't come from the Mac App Store or a well-known developer.

The attack vector is based on a vulnerability in Mackeeper.

Keep that off your Mac and you'll be fine.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
47 months ago
Installation of that Mackeeper pest should be blocked on firmware level.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
47 months ago
More information on this issue from [USER=986455]@thomasareed[/USER]. He's unable to post here because he has less than 100 posts.

He wanted to let us "know that this new "XAgent" variant of Komplex has absolutely no relation to a MacKeeper exploit. The writer has conflated this variant with one specific older variant from 2015. As much as I'd like to be able to blame MacKeeper, that vulnerability was closed in 2015, and there's no indication whatsoever that MacKeeper is in any way involved with the "XAgent" variant."





(Mr. Reed works for Malwarebytes and codes Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac. Prior to this he developed Adware Medic and wrote extensively about security matters, and other Mac matters, at thesafemac((dot))com.)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

New Images Leak of iPhone 12 Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Thursday September 24, 2020 2:37 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models will ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design. Images of the purported cables were leaked in July, and today leaker Mr White has shared new images that give us a closer look at what we might get included in the iPhone 12 box. The photos show a USB-C to Lightning cable with a clearly braided design rather...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Apple's iPhone 12 Event Could Happen on October 13 Based on Rumors From Mobile Operators

Wednesday September 23, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone-centric event could perhaps be held on Tuesday, October 13, according to information shared with MacRumors by an employee at a UK cellular carrier. There's no way for us to confirm the dates at this point in time nor are we sure on the credibility of the source, but even without a rumor, Tuesday, October 13 is a good guess based on Apple's historic launch timelines, ...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.7 With Fixes for WiFi Bug, 27-Inch iMac Graphics Issues

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:32 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.7, the latest update to the macOS Catalina software. macOS Catalina 10.15.7 fixes several major bugs that Mac users have been experiencing, and it comes a month after the latest macOS Catalina release. The ‌‌‌macOS Catalina‌‌‌ 10.15.6 Supplemental Update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System...

Apple Designs Custom Face Mask for Corporate and Retail Employees [Updated with Unboxing]

Wednesday September 9, 2020 11:13 am PDT by
Apple's design team has created a new kind of protective mask that's being distributed to retail and corporate employees, reports Bloomberg. The mask is called the Apple Face Mask and it was developed in-house in Cupertino by the Engineering and Industrial Design teams at Apple. Last week, an Apple employee sent MacRumors an image of the mask design, which can be seen up above. The Apple ...

Video Offers Closer Look at Apple Face Mask

Friday September 25, 2020 5:25 am PDT by
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy has today shared a new video giving a closer look at Apple's reusable face masks for corporate and retail employees. Apple's own face mask was designed by the company's Engineering and Industrial Design teams amid the global health crisis for corporate and retail employees, and the boxes include Apple's famous "Designed by Apple in California" text. The...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...