Mac Crypto Trojan Horse Discovered, Apple Chips A Rich Target
Minneapolis-based cybersecurity firm Jamf Threat Labs found a crypto-jacking program well hidden in pirated copies of Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Jamf warns Apple chip speed will make Macs increasingly popular targets for malware attacks.
In its report, Jamf said:
“During routine monitoring of our threat detections in the wild, we encountered an alert indicating XMRig usage, a command-line crypto-mining tool. While XMRig is commonly used for legitimate purposes, its adaptable, open-source design has also made it a popular choice for malicious actors.”
The Apple software cybersecurity company found that unauthorized copies of Apple video editing software are a Trojan Horse. Unbeknownst to any petty cyber thieves who pirated the Apple software, it was running XMRig to mine crypto using their computer.
Report Warns Crypto Malware for Macs Will Be More Prevalent
The Jamf report continues:
“This particular instance was of interest to us as it was executed under the guise of the Apple-developed video editing software, Final Cut Pro. Further investigation revealed that this malicious version of Final Cut Pro contained a modification unauthorized by Apple that was executing XMRig in the background.”
The security firm warns “cryptojacking” malware will become an increasingly prevalent threat for Mac users with the power of Apple ARM processors today.
Adware has traditionally been the most widespread type of macOS malware, but cryptojacking, a stealthy and large-scale crypto-mining scheme, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Given that crypto-mining requires a significant amount of processing power, it is likely that the ongoing advancements in Apple ARM processors will make macOS devices even more attractive targets for cryptojacking.”
Apple’s M1 16-core Neural Engine processor is capable of 11 trillion operations per second. That represents a 15x increase in machine learning performance over earlier M1s.
What makes Apple chips so fast?
It’s a Volume Game
Pro Tools Experts explains:
“The M1 isn’t just a processor chip, its what is called a System-on-a-Chip or SoC for short. What that means is, that unlike computers to date, where the components that make up a computer are individual parts mounted on a motherboard, an SoC, like the Apple M1, brings together an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU (7-core in some MacBook Air models), unified memory, SSD controller, image signal processor, Secure Enclave, on one chip.”
Like the most powerful mass-production GPUs on the market today, Apple Silicon can actually squeeze out small profits by doing some cryptocurrency mining.
Back in Nov 2021, 9to5Mac ran some numbers on using a MacBook Pro to mine cryptocurrency when you’re not using it and concluded after electricity costs, it might make something like 42 cents a day.
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I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.