Malware Discovered That Can Control a Mac's Webcam and Keyboard, But It's Old and Possibly Abandoned

by

Earlier this year, researchers from security firm Malwarebytes discovered a piece of Mac malware called Fruitfly that reportedly spied on computers in medical research centers for years before being detected. Apple has since updated macOS to automatically detect the malware, safeguarding users.

macbook air
However, a new variant of the Fruitfly malware has recently been discovered by Patrick Wardle, a researcher with security firm Synack. Wardle said the malware has been targeting Macs for at least five years, with the number of infected Macs totaling nearly 400 and possibly much higher, reports Ars Technica.

The malware can supposedly capture screenshots, keystrokes, webcam images, and other info about each infected Mac. The Fruitfly variant also collects information about devices connected to the same network, according to the report.

Wardle said the method of infection remains unknown, but he suspects it involves tricking users into clicking on malicious links, as opposed to exploiting vulnerabilities in apps or in macOS. He added that the primary command-and-control server used by the malware's creators has since been shut down.

Many of the affected Macs have never been disinfected, however, allowing Wardle to create his own custom command-and-control server for the malware and witness the close to 400 infected machines connect to it.

After analyzing the new variant, Wardle was able to decrypt several backup domains that were hardcoded into the malware. To his surprise, the domains remained available. Within two days of registering one of the addresses, close to 400 infected Macs connected to the server, mostly from homes located in the United States. Although Wardle did nothing more than observe the IP address and user names of Macs that connected to his server, he had the ability to use the malware to spy on the users who were unwittingly infected.

Wardle will provide a briefing about his custom command-and-control server tactics on Wednesday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Since the method of infection is unknown, there aren't many specific steps users can take to ensure they're protected. But, given all domains known to be associated with the malware are no longer available, and the limited number of Macs infected beforehand, most users shouldn't be too worried about this malware.

One option Mac users have is to install OverSight, a free software tool that monitors a Mac's microphone and webcam, alerting the user when the internal microphone is activated, or whenever a process accesses the webcam.

Wardle has reported all of his findings to law enforcement officials, and the threat is likely neutralized, according to the report.

Tag: malware

Top Rated Comments

Altis Avatar
44 months ago

Keep operating systems up to date. Exploitation of un-patched vulnerabilties by non-governments is exceedingly rare.

If you don't do security updates as they become available you almost deserve what you get.

That's why security updates should be separate from feature updates.

A lot of people deliberately don't update because of adverse changes to the user experience, leaving security vulnerabilities.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
throAU Avatar
44 months ago

That's why security updates should be separate from feature updates.

A lot of people deliberately don't update because of adverse changes to the user experience, leaving security vulnerabilities.

I get it, but it comes down to this:

Adapt or switch platforms if the user experience changes bother you that much.

No developer is going to support a massive number of platforms with security updates concurrently. They just can't afford to patch old platforms forever. Because every platform means a seperate codebase to maintain and backport/re-develop updates for, beta test, etc.

Apple right now supports 3 (? more?) OS revisions typically (i.e., they do split feature updates and security updates to that degree already), if you haven't dealt with the "user experience" changes after 2-3 new OS revisions, you should be jumping ship to another platform. Just not patching and becoming insecure isn't really a sensible choice.

I'm guessing the big cries from some still go back to the changes made in Lion. It is well beyond time to get over it.

But you'll get the same thing wherever you jump. MS won't support old operating systems forever, and neither will any Linux distribution. No one will.

Adapt, or deal with being insecure.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
throAU Avatar
44 months ago
Keep operating systems up to date. Exploitation of un-patched vulnerabilties by non-governments is exceedingly rare.

If you don't do security updates as they become available you almost deserve what you get.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
44 months ago
People aren't aware of this? Been around for years.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
convergent Avatar
44 months ago

I wonder how many windows pcs are infected right now?

I would place my guess at zero Windows PCs infected with malware targeting Mac webcams, but I could be wrong. :rolleyes:
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
charlituna Avatar
44 months ago

That's why security updates should be separate from feature updates.

A lot of people deliberately don't update because of adverse changes to the user experience, leaving security vulnerabilities.

with Mac OS they often are
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Although we're still a few days away from the official launch of Black Friday, we've known for a few weeks that many retailers would be kicking off discounts ahead of November 27. Because of this trend, today we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the 10.2-inch iPad and 2020 iPad Pro. More sales are likely to appear as the week progresses, and when they do we'll update ...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...