September 26, 2023

Apple Macs are becoming more popular in the workplace, and the number of malware variants targeting macOS is increasing as well. Apple’s new M1 system-on-a-chip, has produced a new generation of macOS specific malware that anti-malware tools, threat hunters, and researchers must swiftly learn to recognize and, eventually, fight.

Apple’s new ARM64-based microprocessor, the M1, has already witnessed an increase in malware types created expressly for it. M1 offers faster and more efficient processing, graphics, and battery life, and is now available in Apple’s new Macs and iPad Pro. It also has several new built-in security mechanisms, such as one that protects the computer from remote exploitation and another that protects physical access. 

Malwarebytes survey says, Windows malware detections are down 24% among business users, while Mac malware detections are up 31%.

For the M1 malware, their detection rate dropped by 10%. The existing antivirus signatures are mostly for the Intel edition of the macOS malware, rather than the M1 variant. Because static analysis alone can fail, detections should also use behavior-based technology. 

With reverse-engineering abilities and an awareness of the ARM64 instruction set, he says he wants to “empower Mac analysts, red teams, and everyone in cybersecurity. The M1 system actually does significantly improve security at the hardware level, but it’s transparent to the everyday user.

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