First Malware Running Natively on M1 Chip Discovered

Malware specifically tailored to run on Apple's M1 chip has been discovered, indicating that malware authors have begun adapting malicious software for Apple's new generation of Macs with Apple silicon.

macbook air m1 unboxing feature
Mac security researcher Patrick Wardle has now published a report, cited by Wired, that explains in detail how malware has started to be adapted and recompiled to run natively on the ‌M1‌ chip.

Wardle discovered the first known native ‌M1‌ malware in the form of a Safari adware extension, originally written to run on Intel x86 chips. The malicious extension, called "GoSearch22," is a well-known member of the "Pirrit" Mac adware family and was first spotted at the end of December. Pirrit is one of the oldest and most active Mac adware families, and has been known to constantly change in an attempt to evade detection, so it is unsurprising that it has already begun adapting for the ‌M1‌.

The GoSearch22 adware presents itself as a legitimate Safari browser extension, but collects user data and serves a large number of ads such as banners and popups, including some that link to malicious websites to proliferate more malware. Wardle says the adware was signed with an Apple Developer ID in November to further conceal its malicious content, but it has since been revoked.

Wardle notes that since malware for the ‌M1‌ is still at an early stage, antivirus scanners are not detecting it as easily as x86 versions and defensive tools like antivirus engines are struggling to process the amended files. The signatures used to detect threats from malware on the ‌M1‌ chip have not yet been substantially observed, so the security tools to detect and deal with it are not yet available.

Researchers from security company Red Canary told Wired that other types of native ‌M1‌ malware, distinct from Wardle's findings, have also been found and are being investigated.

Only the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini have Apple silicon chips at this time, but the technology is expected to expand across the Mac lineup over the next two years. Given that all new Mac computers are expected to feature Apple silicon chips like the ‌M1‌ in the near future, it was somewhat inevitable that malware developers would eventually start to target Apple's new machines.

While the M1-native malware that researchers have found does not seem to be unusual or particularly dangerous, the emergence of these new varieties acts as a warning that there is likely more to come.

See Wardle's full report for more information about the first M1-native malware.

Top Rated Comments

casperes1996 Avatar
12 months ago
Good to see more software natively supported
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ck2875 Avatar
12 months ago

malware authors have begun adapting malicious software for Apple's new generation of Macs with Apple silicon.
They probably needed to get their malware out the door so they could get the $500 voucher for returning the Dev. Kit. to Apple.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jasoncarle Avatar
12 months ago
Wouldn't just not adding rando browser extensions to Safari protect you from this?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dark_Omen Avatar
12 months ago
I wish I was a loser that had no life to the point where I create malware to infect other people's machines.

Oh wait, no I don't.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
baryon Avatar
12 months ago
But Safari extensions were long deprecated ever since Catalina, and now you can only install them from the App Store, for this very reason, to prevent malware. How is this even still possible?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
12 months ago
Dunno, I thought Chrome was the first malware for eating all the CPU cycles and memory.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

mac security privacy

Apple Takes Step to Prevent Further Spread of 'Silver Sparrow' Malware on Macs

Monday February 22, 2021 6:13 am PST by
Over the weekend, we reported on the second known piece of malware compiled to run natively on M1 Macs. Given the name "Silver Sparrow," the malicious package is said to leverage the macOS Installer JavaScript API to execute suspicious commands. After observing the malware for over a week, however, security firm Red Canary did not observe any final payload, so the exact threat to users remains a...
new m1 chip

M1 Mac RAM and SSD Upgrades Found to Be Possible After Purchase

Tuesday April 6, 2021 5:34 am PDT by
Technicians in China have reportedly succeeded in upgrading the memory and storage of the M1 chip, suggesting that Apple's integrated custom silicon for the Mac may be more flexible than previously thought. Reports of maintenance technicians being able to expand the memory and storage of M1 Macs began circulating on Chinese social media over the weekend, but now international reports have...
vlc m1 macs

VLC Media Player for macOS Updated With Native M1 Support

Tuesday January 19, 2021 12:58 am PST by
Popular media player VLC for macOS was today updated to version 3.0.12, bringing native support for Apple silicon Macs, including Apple's latest M1-equipped MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini models. VLC 3's capabilities include automatic hardware decoding for 4K and 8K playback, support for 10-bit HDR, 360-degree video and 3D audio, and Chromecast streaming with support for...
m1 mac family

Apple Now Selling More M1 Macs Than Intel-Based Models, Says Tim Cook

Wednesday April 21, 2021 4:34 am PDT by
Despite only being released in November, sales of the M1-powered MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini now represent the majority of Mac sales, outperforming Mac computers powered by Intel processors, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook made the remarks during Apple's "Spring Loaded" event yesterday, where it introduced a completely redesigned 24-inch iMac powered by the M1 Apple silicon...
mozilla firefox banner

Firefox Updated With Native Support for M1 Macs, Mozilla Touts 'Dramatic Performance Improvements'

Tuesday December 15, 2020 8:31 am PST by
Mozilla today released Firefox version 84 with native support for Apple Silicon Macs with the M1 chip, touting "dramatic performance improvements" over the previous, unoptimized version of the web browser. Specifically, Firefox now launches over 2.5 times faster and web apps are now twice as responsive, according to Mozilla. If you are using a Mac with the M1 chip, Mozilla says you will...
13 inch macbook pro m1

Apple to Announce Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro at WWDC, Says Wedbush Analyst

Wednesday June 2, 2021 10:44 pm PDT by
Apple plans to announce its long-rumored 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with Apple silicon at WWDC, taking place in less than five days, according to Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives. In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, Ives says alongside the normally expected announcement of new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, Apple is planning a "few surprises," including the...
m2 feature

Apple Silicon M2 Chip Coming to Wave of New Macs

Monday May 24, 2021 2:27 am PDT by
Apple's more powerful "M2" chip is set to come to a wave of new Macs, bringing significant performance and efficiency improvements to a range of new models, according to recent reports. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously said that Apple is working on higher-end Apple silicon chips that are expected to "significantly outpace" the performance of the latest Macs that still contain Intel chips,...
apple banner apps optimized for m1 chip

Apple Highlights Popular Apps Optimized for M1 Macs

Monday December 14, 2020 7:56 am PST by
Apple recently shared a list of popular apps optimized for Macs with the M1 chip that are available in the Mac App Store, such as Pixelmator Pro, Adobe Lightroom, Affinity Designer, Darkroom, Fantastical, BBEdit, Instapaper, and Twitter. "Macs with the new Apple M1 chip offer unprecedented performance, and developers can optimize their apps for the M1 to deliver game-changing speed and...

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...