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Apple M1-native malware targets users of the new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini with unwanted Pirrit adware

The first Apple M1-native running malware has been discovered. (Image source: Apple/PCRisk - edited)
The first Apple M1-native running malware has been discovered. (Image source: Apple/PCRisk - edited)
Apple M1-native malware has been discovered by an independent macOS security researcher. The GoSearch22 Safari browser extension, which is linked to the infamous Pirrit adware family, can run on any M1 silicon-based device, such as the late 2020 models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini.
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An independent researcher called Patrick Wardle has made some worrying discoveries for those in possession of a brand-new Apple M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, or M1 Mac Mini. It appears users of those devices can already expect to be troubled by malware issues, as new examples of the accursed apps have been found. As reported by Wired, code that had been created for running on Intel x86 processors has been taken advantage of by shadowy types to come up with Mac malware that will operate natively on the Apple M1.

The GoSearch22 Safari browser extension has been specifically outed as a member of this new M1 malware family, with MacRumors explaining how this type of code can collect sensitive user data without permission and actually lead to more malware being installed on an infected machine. GoSearch22 has been associated with Pirrit-related ads, which when closed simply direct the user to a more-often-than-not malicious or dangerous website. Information for removing Pirrit can be found over at PCRisk.

GoSearch22 has already had its certificate revoked by Apple, but the discovery of the malware operating freely in combination with the company’s new M1 silicon will be disconcerting for future MacBook Pro/Air owners and security researchers alike. Apparently, the malware was difficult for anti-virus tools to weed out, with Wardle stating “detections of the arm64 version dropped roughly 15% (when compared to the standalone x86_64 version).” Just as developers have rushed to take advantage of the ARM-based M1 it seems so have malware coders.

Buy the Apple MacBook Air with M1 silicon on Amazon

GoSearch22 is a variant of Pirrit adware. (Image source: Wardle/Objective-See)
GoSearch22 is a variant of Pirrit adware. (Image source: Wardle/Objective-See)
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Daniel R Deakin
Daniel R Deakin - Managing Editor News - 2329 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
My interest in technology began after I was presented with an Atari 800XL home computer in the mid-1980s. I especially enjoy writing about technological advances, compelling rumors, and intriguing tech-related leaks. I have a degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies and count my family, reading, writing, and travel as the main passions of my life. I have been with Notebookcheck since 2012.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 02 > Apple M1-native malware targets users of the new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini with unwanted Pirrit adware
Daniel R Deakin, 2021-02-18 (Update: 2021-02-18)