Pirated Final Cut Pro for macOS Offers Stealth Malware Delivery


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People using pirated versions of Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software may have gotten more than they bargained for when they downloaded the software from the many illicit torrents through which it is available.

For the past several months at least, an unknown threat actor has used a pirated version of the macOS software to deliver the XMRig cryptocurrency mining tool on systems belonging to people who downloaded the app.

Researchers from Jamf who recently spotted the operation have been unable to determine how many users might have installed the weaponized software on their system and currently have XMRig running on them, but the level of sharing of the software suggests it could be hundreds.

Potentially Wide Impact for XMRig

Jaron Bradley, macOS detections expert at Jamf, says his company spotted over 400 seeders — or users who have the complete app — making it available via torrent to those who want it. The security vendor found that the individual who originally uploaded the weaponized version of Final Cut Pro for torrent sharing is someone with a multiyear track record of uploading pirated macOS software with the same cryptominer. Software in which the threat actor had previously sneaked the malware into includes pirated macOS versions of Logic Pro and Adobe Photoshop.

“Given the relatively high number of seeders and [the fact] that the malware author has been motivated enough to continuously update and upload the malware over the course of three and a half years, we suspect it has a fairly wide reach,” Bradley says.

Jamf described the poisoned Final Cut Pro sample that it discovered as a new and improved version of previous samples of the malware, with obfuscation features that have made it almost invisible to malware scanners on VirusTotal. One key attribute of the malware is its use of the Invisible Internet Project (i2p) protocol for communication. I2p is a private network layer that offers users similar kind of anonymity as that offered by The Onion Router (Tor) network. All i2p traffic exists inside the network, meaning it does not touch the Internet directly.

“The malware author never reaches out to a website located anywhere except within the i2p network,”…