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Adware for Apple’s M1 spotted in the wild

Last year Apple made good on a threat it had made several times before – it was going to drop Intel for its chip needs and instead manufacture chips in-house.

The result of those efforts was the widely lauded M1 chip which has been impressing pundits and users since its launch in the updated Macbook Air and Macbook Pro.

But ne’er-do-wells will always ruin the party with malicious software and Apple M1 users would do well to take note of the fact that adware has been created specifically for the chip.

Security researcher Patrick Wardle has published a blog where they detail how this new member of the Pirrit adware family is now targeting Apple’s chips directly.

The malware parades itself as a legitimate Safari extension but it siphons off user data and serves adverts that, in most instances, directs to malicious websites.

More concerning is that the adware was signed by Apple in November 2020. The good news is that the certificate has since been revoked and the application won’t run on macOS unless it is re-signed.

While adware is not novel in and of itself as Malwarebytes Mac security researcher Thomas Reed told Wired, the security sector may not be ready to protect these devices.

Indeed, Wardle showcased that. while detection tools detected malware in code for Intel x86 chips, they failed to detect the exact same code targeting the M1.

“Apple’s new M1 systems offer a myriad of benefits, and natively compiled arm64 code runs blazingly fast. Today, we highlighted the fact that malware authors have now joined the ranks of developers (re)compiling their code to arm64 to gain natively binary compatibility with Apple’s latest hardware,” Wardle wrote.

While we’re confident this won’t be an issue for very long, for now keep app installations to solutions you know you can trust.

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