30,000 Macs infected by fast-spreading malware with unknown payload

Gelo Gonzales

MACBOOK. A new malware has been found by cybersecurity firm Red Canary

Image from Apple

The malware, known as Silver Sparrow, has a 'relatively high infection rate' and 'potentially impactful payload' that could activate at a moment's notice

A new malware has been discovered on 30,000 Macs worldwide whose payload is currently unknown but can supposedly be triggered at any time, Ars Technica reports.

The malware has been found in 153 countries with a large concentration in the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany. Researchers have not been able to spot any delivered payload to any of the machines infected at the moment, but the malware has been observed to check a server for new commands to execute.

With no warning, the malware can execute its true payload. It has also been found with a self-destruct mechanism, which is reported to be a function usually reserved for “high-stealth operations.” 

The malware has been called Silver Sparrow by the security firm that made the discovery, Red Canary. It is also only the second piece of macOS firmware that runs natively on Apple’s new, in-house M1 chip, which means the malware will run faster on M1-equipped Macs as opposed to being a non-native M1 application.

Red Canary says in its blog there is cause for worry because of its “relatively high infection rate” and “potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.”

It is yet unclear how the malware is being distributed, though malicious search results and installers disguised as legitimate apps are being looked at as prime suspects. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.