Windows Malware Runs on Macs, Bypasses Gatekeeper to Target Software Pirates

If it wasn’t already obvious, pirating software is a risky business and this was again proven by a set of malicious executables targeting macOS users with info stealers and adware, and compiled as Windows EXE binaries with the help of the open source Mono framework.

Mono is designed to allow developers to create cross-platform .NET applications part of the .NET Foundation, which can be later used on multiple platforms, from macOS, Windows, Android, most Linux distributions, BSD, and Solaris, as well as on some game consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii.

The malware ridden executables discovered by Trend Micro’s Don Ladores and Luis Magisa are distributed via torrent websites and promise to deliver cracked versions of various software:

Mono-based binaries will launch unhindered as long as the Mono runtime is available on the system and the threat actors made sure that their malware will be able to run by bundling a copy of the Mono framework within the downloaded installers.

The installer within the (the one Trend Micro chose to analyze) looks just like any other macOS app, but on closer inspection, when looking within the application bundles, the researchers were able to find the maliciously crafted EXE files which will deliver “a malicious payload that overrides Mac’s built-in protection mechanisms such as Gatekeeper.”

Malicious installer

The fact that running Windows executables files is not commonplace on macOS (actually, trying to do so will only display an error), allows the malicious EXE files to circumvent macOS’ Gatekeeper protection mechanism which does not recognize them as a native binary, and will not check their notarization status and Developer ID signature.

“While no specific attack pattern is seen, our telemetry showed the highest numbers for infections to be in the United Kingdom, Australia, Armenia, Luxembourg, South Africa and the United States,” says Trend Micro.

After being launched on the victim’s Mac, the malware will automatically start collecting system information (i.e., ModelName, ModelIdentifier, ProcessorSpeed, ProcessorDetails, NumberofProcessors, NumberofCores, Memory, BootROMVersion, SMCVersion, SerialNumber, UUID.)

Collecting system information

In the next step, it will also list all the apps installed on the Mac and will exfiltrate all the information it has collected to its command-and-control (C&C) server.

While there is no obvious purpose for gathering this info, the bad actors can later use it to generate stats on a potential botnet if they ever decide to build one using the compromised Macs.

Next, it grabs the following files, stores them into ~/Library/X2441139MAC/Temp/, mounts them as DMG images, and executes the binaries contained within:

InstallCapital pushed as payload

From tests conducted by BleepingComputer, the main payload in the malicious executable pushes a pay-per-install adware bundle from monetization company InstallCapital.

InstallCapital is a well-known adware bundle commonly used as part of Windows-based payloads to install numerous unwanted programs including, adware, unwanted extensions, miners, and even drop some ransomware strains at times.

InstallCapital bundle

While the malware’s developers used an unorthodox approach to deliver Windows-based payload components such as InstallCapital, their malicious EXE binary will not run on Windows systems because it looks specifically for the Mac Xamarin libraries when launched …read more

Source:: Daily times


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