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New malware threatens the crypto assets of Apple users and their wallets through fake blockchain games

Recently in the crypto-related malware landscape, security researchers have issued a serious warning about a newly identified malware called Realst, which poses a significant risk to Apple macOS users and their wallets. 

This insidious malware targets individuals who engage in blockchain games, exploiting their interest in the promise of financial rewards to deceive and steal. 

As the popularity of blockchain games continues to grow, the emergence of Realst highlights the urgent need for increased vigilance and proactive cybersecurity measures to protect cryptographic assets and sensitive information from the wrong hands. 

In this article, we delve into the mechanisms of Realst, the tactics it employs to deceive victims, and the potential implications it may have for users and the broader cybersecurity landscape. 

We also explore the critical precautions users should take to safeguard themselves from falling victim to such cunning malware and the role of security solutions in combating this emerging threat.

The malware linked to blockchain and crypto games steals from Apple users and their wallets

The recently identified malware, known as Realst, poses a significant threat to Apple users by exposing them to the potential theft of valuable cryptocurrency and sensitive information. 

SlowMist, a web3 security company, was among the first to report the presence of this malicious software. 

The troubling revelation was further corroborated by a blog post from cybersecurity firm SentinelOne, which shed light on Realst’s dangerous capabilities.

Realst’s main distribution method is to exploit malicious websites that promote seemingly authentic blockchain games

The malware exploits the growing popularity of blockchain games, which often promise financial rewards, to entice users to download these fake games. 

SentinelOne threat researcher Phil Stokes pointed out that Realst’s creators go to great lengths to deceive their victims. 

Each fake version of the game has its own website, Twitter accounts and Discord channels, creating an illusion of authenticity that makes it difficult for unsuspecting victims to spot the deception.

Realst, coded in Rust, employs a tactic called AppleScript spoofing to further deceive users. It presents password prompt dialogs with hidden answers, cunningly capturing passwords without the user’s knowledge. 

In addition, the malware can resort to using Chainbreaker, an open-source project, to extract crucial information such as passwords, keys and certificates from macOS keyring databases.

How does the malware work

The moment the victim launches one of these fake games and provides the fake “installer” with a password, the malware springs into action, carrying out its nefarious mission. 

As a result, the user’s data, passwords and cryptocurrency wallets become vulnerable to theft, leading to potential financial losses and privacy breaches.

An alarming discovery indicates that malware authors are also testing Realst’s capabilities on Apple’s upcoming macOS 14 Sonoma version. 

About a third of the Realst samples identified would be targeting the upcoming version of macOS. This suggests a worrying level of sophistication and adaptability on the part of malware creators, making it essential for users and security teams to remain highly vigilant.

Although the SentinelOne security solution can currently detect and prevent all known variants of Realst, the malware is not easily thwarted. 

Even Apple’s malware blocking service, known as “XProtect,” does not currently appear to effectively prevent the execution of this cunning malware.

The malware spreads through fake blockchain games, enticing victims to download them and unknowingly expose themselves to theft

Realst’s propagation strategy is based on exploiting the popularity of blockchain games, where players are often promised financial rewards and exciting gaming experiences. 

Malware creators cleverly design fake versions of blockchain games, with names such as Brawl Earth, WildWorld, Dawnland, Destruction, Evolion, Pearl, Olymp of Reptiles and SaintLegend, among others. 

Each of these counterfeit games comes with its own website, Twitter accounts, and Discord channels, making them appear credible and enticing to potential victims.

Unsuspecting users who come across these fake games are tempted to download and run them, unaware of the hidden dangers they conceal. 

Once the user launches the game and proceeds to install it, they are prompted to enter their password, not suspecting that this seemingly innocuous action is what triggers the malicious payload.

The malware’s use of AppleScript spoofing is particularly worrisome, as it convincingly presents password prompt dialogs that look authentic but have hidden answers to covertly capture passwords. 

This devious tactic allows the malware to obtain sensitive login credentials without the user immediately noticing.

In more sophisticated attacks, Realst can also resort to Chainbreaker, a project that helps extract vital information from macOS keyring databases. 

This gives the malware access to passwords, keys and certificates, leaving user data, cryptocurrency wallets and other confidential information extremely vulnerable to theft.

Adopt extreme caution when downloading such crypto-related games

Given the alarming rise of blockchain games that promise financial rewards, Phil Stokes, threat researcher at SentinelOne, urges users to exercise extreme caution whenever they encounter solicitations to download and run such games.

The seemingly harmless act of installing a fake game could lead to disastrous consequences, including the loss of hard-earned cryptocurrency and the potential exposure of sensitive data.

In light of this newly identified threat, it is essential that users are informed about the risks associated with malware and remain vigilant when connecting to any online content. 

Keeping security solutions up-to-date and adopting prudent practices can help protect against the ever-evolving malware landscape.

Realst malware continues to evolve and adapt, underscoring the importance of a proactive approach to cybersecurity to safeguard personal information and valuable digital assets.