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How to remove Silver Sparrow malware from the operating system

Also Known As: Silver Sparrow virus
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Silver Sparrow malware?

Silver Sparrow is a malicious program targeting Mac OS operating systems. There are two versions of this malware, the key difference being the targeted OS architecture. Silver Sparrow's activity has been observed in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.

This malware is designed to operate as a 'backdoor' for malicious payloads. I.e., its goal is to infect devices with additional malware.

VirusTotal detections of an installer containing a variant of Silver Sparrow malware

One variant of Silver Sparrow is designed for Intel x86_64 system architecture, the other for this as well as M1 ARM64. The latter is relatively new and, as such, is targeted somewhat less. As mentioned, this piece of malicious software is intended to infect systems with other malware, however, at the time of research, it has not been observed injecting compromised devices with any payloads. Therefore, the specific goals of cyber criminals behind Silver Sparrow are unknown. Likewise, it is unclear what potential damage the malware can cause. Additionally, some aspects of Silver Sparrow make its code easily modifiable, which makes it a versatile threat.

Note that this malware uses Amazon AWS - a legitimate service provided by Amazon Inc. - for its malicious purposes. This increases Silver Sparrow's chances of proliferation, as Amazon AWS offers suitable conditions for it (e.g., resilient file distribution and content delivery, etc.).

Malware capable of causing chain infections (i.e., has backdoor functionalities) can infect devices with a wide variety of malicious programs. Furthermore, malware can have varied capabilities in different combinations. For example, Trojans can function as backdoors, allow remote access and control over the infected machine, download content stored on the system, extract content/information from browsers and other installed applications, spy on users (e.g., monitor keystrokes, record/live-stream video and audio, take screenshots, etc.), and so on.

Ransomware operates by encrypting stored data and/or locking the device's screen for ransom purposes. Cryptominers use system resources (potentially to the point of system failure) to mine cryptocurrency.

To summarize, Silver Sparrow can cause multiple system infections and lead to severe privacy issues, data loss, device damage, financial losses, and identity theft.

If it is suspected/known that Silver Sparrow (or other malware) has already infected the system, use anti-virus software to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Silver Sparrow virus
Threat Type Mac malware, Mac virus, Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names (version 1 installer) Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), F-Secure (Malware.OSX/Agent.smpwq), ESET-NOD32 (OSX/Agent.BL), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.OSX.Slisp.a), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (version 2 installer) Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), F-Secure (Malware.OSX/Agent.rawsn), ESET-NOD32 (OSX/Agent.BL), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.OSX.Slisp.a), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Trojan malware is designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution Methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Mac)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

ElectroRATOSAMiner, Eleanor, and XCSSET are some examples of other Mac malware. This malicious software can have an array of dangerous functionality, which can pose a correspondingly broad range of serious problems. The sole purpose of this software is to generate profit at users' expense.

Regardless of how malware operates, it is highly dangerous. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to eliminate all threats immediately upon detection.

How did Silver Sparrow infiltrate my computer?

The exact method used to spread Silver Sparrow is unknown. Typically, malicious programs are proliferated through untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), fake updaters, and spam campaigns.

Malware (including ransomware) is usually distributed via malspam campaigns, unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools, Trojans, dubious file/software download sources, and fake software updating tools.

When cyber criminals attempt to distribute malware via malspam campaigns, they send emails that contain malicious attachments or download links for malicious files. Typically, they disguise their emails as official and important. If recipients open the attached file (or a file downloaded via a website link), they cause installation of malicious software.

Cyber criminals commonly attach executable files (.exe), archive files such as RAR, ZIP, PDF documents, JavaScript files and Microsoft Office documents to their emails. Software 'cracking' tools supposedly activate licensed software illegally (bypass activation), however, they often install malicious programs and do not activate any legitimate installed software.

Trojans are other rogue programs that can cause chain infections. I.e., when a Trojan is installed on the operating system, it can install additional malware.

Free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), unofficial websites, and third party downloaders are examples of other sources that are used to distribute malware. Cyber criminals disguise malicious files as legitimate and regular. When users download and open them, they inadvertently infect their computers with malware.

Fake software updating tools install malicious software rather than updates/fixes for installed programs, or they exploit bugs/flaws of outdated software that is installed on the operating system.

How to avoid installation of malware

Do not trust irrelevant emails that have files attached (or contain website links) and are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Software should not be downloaded or installed through third party downloaders, installers, unofficial pages or other similar sources/tools.

Use only official websites and direct links. Installed software should never be updated or activated with third party, unofficial tools, since they can install malware. Furthermore, it is illegal to use third party tools to activate licensed software.

The only legitimate way to update and activate software is to use tools and functions that are provided by the official developers. Regularly scan your computer with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep this software up to date.

If your computer is already infected with malware, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the installer distributing the second version of Silver Sparrow malware:

Silver Sparrow malware alternative variant installer detections on VirusTotal

Update 2 March 2021 - It is likely that Silver Sparrow infects computers via adware or advertisements, third-party offers during the installation processes of certain programs. It is known that the purpose of Silver Sparrow is to infect computers with additional malware, but the payload is still unknown.

Whatever it is, it cannot be configured because the configuration file is hosted in AWS S3. Note also that Silver Sparrow uninstalls itself once the "~/Library/._insu" file appears in the system. It is likely that this file is generated when there is nothing more to gain from the infected machine.

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select "Applications". In the applications folder, look for "MPlayerX","NicePlayer", or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing the potentially unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove silver sparrow virus related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

Click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from launch agents folder step 2
In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step2Check for adware generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/Application Support

removing adware from application support folder step 2
In the “Application Support” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, “MplayerX” or “NicePlayer”, and move these folders to the Trash.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


In the Go to Folder bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 2

In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 2
In the “LaunchDaemons” folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example “com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist”, “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”, "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist”, “com.avickUpd.plist”, etc., and move them to the Trash.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure your system is not infected run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file double click combocleaner.dmg installer, in the opened window drag and drop Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide, otherwise it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

After removing files and folders generated by the adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Silver Sparrow virus removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove silver sparrow virus related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

Open Safari browser, from the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

safari extensions window

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove silver sparrow virus related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove silver sparrow virus related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

You are advised not to use Peer-to-Peer networks (such as eMule, torrent clients, etc.), unofficial websites, third party downloaders, installers, etc. to download or install software or files. Use official pages and direct links.
Check download/installation set-ups for settings such as "Advanced", "Manual, or "Custom" (or include certain checkboxes) and decline offers to download or install unwanted apps before completing the process.
Additionally, do not trust or click advertisements that are displayed on dubious web pages - they can open other rogue sites or cause unwanted downloads and installations.
Remove any suspicious or unknown extensions, add-ons and plug-ins installed on the browser. The same applies to software of this kind that is installed on the operating system

 

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Silver Sparrow virus QR code
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