macOS Malware 2023 | A Deep Dive into Emerging Trends and Evolving Techniques

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
In a recent report by SentinelOne, they've highlighted a noteworthy shift in the behavior of macOS malware. The trend we're observing is a move away from the concept of persistence, particularly in many malware families. Specifically, infostealers have taken center stage, aiming to accomplish their objectives in a single execution. This includes the theft of valuable data such as admin passwords, browsing history, and cookies, all achieved without relying on traditional methods of maintaining persistence.

Another significant development is the growing utilization of advanced social engineering techniques by threat actors targeting Mac users. These cybercriminals are orchestrating sophisticated campaigns, such as the RustBucket malware incident, enticing victims to download and execute malicious software under the guise of confidential documents and business opportunities. This approach often involves circumventing Apple's security measures to deliver their malicious payloads.

Furthermore, public offensive security tools, like Cobalt Strike and Mythic, have made their way into macOS malware campaigns. These tools provide attackers with potent capabilities. It's important to note that these tools are open source, allowing security vendors to develop detection mechanisms. However, Apple has not yet fully integrated these protective measures.

Security Officer Comments:
Some businesses have discovered that implementing and using Apple's products can significantly reduce the risks associated with malware. This is because operating systems like macOSX and various Linux variants are less susceptible to malware and threat actors. For decades, operating systems like Windows have been dominant in the workforce, making them prime targets for malware attacks. Malware has been developed specifically to infect these systems. However, as macOSX and Linux-based systems gained popularity and are considered more secure, threat actors have shifted their focus and tactics. They are now targeting these systems in an attempt to catch organizations off-guard. The article specifically highlights the use of built-in macOS tools known as LOLBins (Living-Off-the-Land), which are commonly employed by malware to obfuscate malicious behavior, making it challenging for defenders to distinguish legitimate actions from malicious ones. Additionally,

Suggested Correction(s):
To counter the use of LOLBins and the growing threat to Apple products, the report underscores the critical need to enhance Apple's native security measures by incorporating third-party security solutions. This approach is seen as essential for effectively addressing the continuously evolving macOS malware threats. The research from SentinelOne specifically points out that Apple's threat detection updates may not keep pace with those offered by third-party solutions. Consequently, enterprises are urged to implement supplementary security measures to bolster their protection against emerging threats.

Being proactive and staying informed about developments like this can provide a significant advantage to leaders, including Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), when preparing budgets and allocating resources towards security solutions that minimize the impact on business operations.