Another Mac-Focused Malware is on the Rise

Macintosh users generally think their devices are immune to viruses or malware, but an up and coming variant could change their minds.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reportedly looking into hundreds of reported infections caused by a still mysterious malware type called “FruitFly”. For their part, the FBI neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an investigation.

Researchers have been aware of this strain for a while now, but a newer version emerged just last month. FruitFly quietly lurks in a Mac’s background, spying through the infected device’s webcam while also capturing screenshots and logging keystrokes – a nightmare for anyone whose computer gets hacked into.

How FruitFly gets into Macs and – and who is behind the malware – is still unknown, but online security experts discovered code for the malware that was modified to be compatible with Apple’s Yosemite operating system (OS). The OS was first released to the public in 2014, suggesting FruitFly might have existed since then.

Security researcher Patrick Wardle identified at least 400 devices infected by the new FruitFly strain with more cases likely out in the public. Wardle added that while there are several strains of the malware, they have similar spying techniques but different codes.

Mac users generally think their devices are immune to malware, but a new variant could change their minds.

Mac computers infected by FruitFly remind the public that although Mac malware might not be as common as it is on Windows machines, it still is possible. Wardle added, “Mac users are over-confident. We might not be as careful as we should be on the internet or opening up email attachments.”

Wardle believes that the criminals behind FruitFly are in it for spying on people, ruling out the plausibility of a hacker targeting users for cyber-espionage.

Some researchers, however, believe that since a majority of the first infected users were connected to biomedical institutions; it seems that the purpose of the attacks could be linked to wide scale espionage.

Apple did release a patch for the first version FruitFly but Wardle spotted a newer version of the malware that could steal a victim’s personal data. He registered one of the domains being used by FruitFly and was able to access the information stolen from the victims.

The victims of this later version of FruitFly seemed to be “regular” citizens from Canada and the United States. While researchers have yet to identify the source of the malware and how it gets into Mac systems, they believe this exhibits how everyone could fall victim to malware – Windows and Mac users alike.

Mac users should be more vigilant in protecting their personal data and devices. Installing Antivirus programs; updating their systems regularly; being more cautious in clicking links or opening emails; are just a few online safety tips they could do.

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