Crooks set up a fake Symantec Blog to spread the macOS Proton malware

Pierluigi Paganini November 23, 2017

A new strain of the notorious macOS Proton malware is spreading through a blog spoofing the legitimate blog of the security firm Symantec.

The attackers used the same domain registration information of the original site, except for the email address.

The SSL digital certificate for the site is a legitimate certificate issued by Comodo instead of the Symantec’s certificate authority.

The attackers created a the fake blog symantecblog[dot]com that mirrored content from the original website. The experts from Malwarebytes discovered that a post about a new version of CoinThief malware was promoting the application called “Symantec Malware Detector,” that was used to distribute the OSX.Proton.

“The malware is being promoted via a fake Symantec blog site at symantecblog[dot]com. The site is a good imitation of the real Symantec blog, even mirroring the same content. The registration information for the domain appears, on first glance, to be legitimate, using the same name and address as the legitimate Symantec site. The email address used to register the domain is a dead giveaway,” reads the analysis published by Malwarebytes.

Threat actors spread links to the fake blog on Twitter using both fake and legitimate compromised accounts. The Symantec Malware Detector application acts like a dropper.

The malicious Symantec Malware Detector application displays a simple window with  the Symantec logo requiring the authorization to perform a system check.If the victim agrees to run the check, the admin password is requested, allowing the malware stealing the password. Next, the app displays a progress bar to trick victims into believing that it is scanning the computer, instead it is installing the Proton malware in the background.

Proton malware fake symantec blog

Once installed, the Proton malware gathers user information, such as the admin password and other personally-identifying information (PII). The malicious code saves all data to a hidden file.

“The malware also captures and exfiltrates things like keychain files, browser auto-fill data, 1Password vaults, and GPG passwords. Since the malware has phished the user’s password, the hackers will be able to decrypt the keychain files at a minimum.” continues the analysis.

Once this “dropper” app has been run, the following paths are created on the target system:


The Proton executable is dropped in the .random directory and is kept running by the launch agent. The stolen data is stored in the. cachedir folder.

In order to prevent future infections, Apple has revoked the certificate used to sign the malware.

“Fortunately, Apple is aware of this malware and has revoked the certificate used to sign the malware. This will prevent future infections by the Symantec Malware Detector. Revoking the certificate will not, by itself, do anything to protect a machine that is already infected,” states the report. 

Experts believe that the Proton malware will continue to circulate, Macs will continue to be the targets of an increasing amount of malware.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – cybercrime, Proton malware)

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