Beware of the Malicious Mac Monero Miner

Malicious cryptocurrency mining tools have become a big problem over the past few months. In most cases, this malware only affects Windows users, although some Linux variants exist as well. It seems a stealthy Macintosh cryptominer has been utilizing the XMRig source code to mine Monero on behalf of criminals.

A Malicious Mac Cryptominer Appears

For the most part, users of the Macintosh operating system have been safe from harm in regards to malware and cryptocurrency miners. While that is still the case today, it does appear things are changing rapidly, and not for the better. In fact, a cryptominer affecting the Macintosh platform was discovered earlier this week.

As it happens, this malware doesn’t necessarily pose much of a problem. That’s because it is possible to remove this malicious cryptominer with relative ease. Moreover, the tool itself isn’t extremely sophisticated, although it indicates MacOS is a platform of increasing interest to criminals looking to exploit the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

It appears the mshelper process on Macintosh is the one to watch out for. This particular process, combined with a few other suspicious elements, cause Mac users to experience decreased CPU performance while the processes are active. It is a bit unclear how much of one’s processing power this malware uses, although it seems safe to say it’s anywhere from 30% to 70%. Cryptominers tend to squeeze out every bit of infected computers’ resources to maximize the criminals’ earnings.

The biggest concern when malware like this one is discovered is how it is distributed. In this case, there is a dropper involved, although it remains a bit unclear which method of distribution is being used.  This makes it a bit difficult for security researchers to look into the matter and shut it down.

As with a lot of cryptocurrency mining-related malware, the main purpose of these criminals is to obtain the Monero cryptocurrency. It is one of the few currencies which can still be mined without dedicated ASIC hardware, and most XMR miners simply use their device’s CPU to do so. This has attracted the attention of criminals, who will infect computers in order to use other people’s CPU cycles to mine Monero.

Whether or not this means there will be more Mac-oriented malware in the future remains to be seen. The miner itself uses the XMRig open source library, which has become a favorite tool for criminals looking to mine Monero using malicious methods. For the time being, criminals will continue to target the cryptocurrency industry in any way they see fit.