New Mac Malware Found to Infect via Xcode

Security researchers at Trend Micro have discovered a new kind of Mac malware which can "command and control" a target system.

xcode 6

The researchers described the malware, which is part of the XCSSET family, as "an unusual infection related to Xcode developer projects." The malware is unusual because it is injected into Xcode projects, and when the project is built, the malicious code is run. A developer's Xcode project was found to be able to contain the malware, which "leads to a rabbit hole of malicious payloads."

The discovery poses a significant risk for Xcode developers. Trend Micro identified developers affected by the malware who share their projects via GitHub, leading to a potential supply-chain attack for users who rely on repositories for their own projects. Google's VirusTotal scanning software managed to identify the malware, which indicates the threat is at large.

The malware spreads via infected Xcode projects because it can create maliciously modified applications. Specifically, the malware was found to be capable of abusing Safari and other browsers to steal data. It can use a vulnerability to read and dump cookies, create backdoors in Javascript, and in turn modify displayed websites, steal private banking information, block password changes, and steal newly modified passwords. It was also found to be able to steal information from apps such as Evernote, Notes, Skype, Telegram, QQ, and WeChat, take screenshots, upload files to the attacker's specified server, encrypt files, and display a ransom note.

Affected developers may unwittingly distribute the trojan to their users in the form of compromized Xcode projects and built applications. The malware is particularly dangerous because verification methods, such as checking hashes, would not identify infection as the developers would be unaware that they are distributing malicious files.

To protect against this type of threat, Trend Micro encourages users to only download apps from official marketplaces and consider multilayered security solutions.

Top Rated Comments

foobarbaz Avatar
9 months ago
If only there was the technology to prevent this spread. Perhaps something similar to containing a bunch of sand in some kind of box-shaped enclosure.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
russell_314 Avatar
9 months ago
This is why we can’t have nice things ?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
9 months ago
Now imagine if the malware made it into a Mac App Store app.

This is why we notarize our Mac apps.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lostngone Avatar
9 months ago
Good thing I never migrated to Xcode... CodeWarrior Pro 4 is the only way to compile!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Scottsoapbox Avatar
9 months ago
Can't blame the non-tech savy people for this one.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PsykX Avatar
9 months ago

Pulling an Xcode project file from github and running it through Xcode without examining it first sounds kind of risky in the first place.
I understand your suggestion, but it is an impossible thing to do.

Sure, I can have a look at the initial code, but I rely on Swift Packages a lot. Xcode is configured to update Swift Packages to the latest minor revisions by default, and it happens on project opening. If one of my framework dependencies suddenly becomes infected, I will never know.

--

Apple has the biggest homework to do here, but they will probably work in partnership with GitHub, GitLab, etc. to identify the malicious files, if they all look alike it will be easy for them to delete them.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...