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In the past Macs had a reputation for being safer than their Windows counterparts when it came to malware, but that’s no longer the case.
Recently, we’ve seen all sorts of Mac malware from infostealers to fake PDF viewers used to infect Macs with viruses. Now though, a Mac utility that gave users greater control over macOS’ dark mode has seemingly become malicious overnight.
As reported by How to Geek, the once popular utility NightOwl, which made it possible for Mac users to instantly switch between light and dark mode depending on the time of day, is now effectively malware.
While Apple has since added native dark mode support with the release of macOS Mojave back in 2018, some users may still have NightOwl installed on the best MacBooks. If you’re one of those users, you should delete the app immediately since recent changes to it could put your privacy at risk.
Adding Macs to a botnet
According to its website, NightOwl was originally developed to make it easier to switch between light and dark mode without having to navigate through macOS’ settings. The utility appears to have been created by one developer who was looking to solve one of the most frustrating things about macOS Mojave’s dark mode.
After launching the app and seeing a great deal of success, its developer eventually sold it to another company called TPE.FYI LLC. Instead of leaving NightOwl as it was, its new owner injected malicious code into the app that essentially adds Macs with it installed to a botnet used for “market research”. Unfortunately for those still using NightOwl, there’s no way to opt out and the app’s new gateway feature can’t be disabled even when you quit the app.
Information regarding the feature itself is tucked away in the app’s terms of service which explains that the “NightOwl app enables Users to share internet traffic by modifying their device’s network settings to be used as a gateway for internet traffic.” To make matters worse, a Mac with NightOwl installed is also “as a gateway for NightOwl app’s Clients, including companies that specialize in web and market research, SEO, brand protection, content delivery,…