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How to remove the XcodeSpy malware?

Also Known As: XcodeSpy backdoor
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Severe

What is XcodeSpy?

XcodeSpy malware targets Apple developers, which spreads through malicious (trojanized) Xcode projects (Run Script feature in Xcode IDE). Research shows that one of those malicious Xcode projects (called TabBarInteraction) is supposed to include features for animating the iOS Tab Bar.

It is likely that there is more than one trojanized Xcode project. A malicious code that XcodeSpy uses can be easily hidden and launched in any third-party Xcode project.

XcodeSpy (or rather the backdoor it injects) can record audio using the microphone, video using camera, and keyboard input. Also, it can download and upload files.

XcodeSpy malware installed EggShell backdoor

As mentioned in the first paragraph, XcodeSpy is distributed using the Run Script feature in Xcode IDE. Once a trojanized Xcode project (XcodeSpy) is launched, it installs the EggShell backdoor on the operating system.

Then the attackers can use installed backdoor to record audio using the microphone, video using the camera, log keystrokes (record keyboard input), upload and download files. It is common that cybercriminals use hijacked microphones and cameras to record videos, audios that could be used to blackmail victims.

Quite often, cybercriminals threaten to publish recorded material if victims do not pay a certain amount of money (typically, in cryptocurrency). Keystroke logging feature allows the attackers to record everything victims type with their keyboard.

It means that cybercriminals could be able to obtain data such as login credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords) for various personal accounts (from social media to banking accounts), credit card details, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and so on.

Depending on the record data, it could be used to steal online accounts, identities, make fraudulent purchases, transactions, and other malicious purposes. Also, all the extracted information could be sold to third parties (other cybercriminals).

Additionally, XcodeSpy/installed backdoor can be used to download files stored on the victim's computer, including personal documents, photos, videos, etc.

Cybercriminals may threaten to publish those files as well and ask for payment in return for not making stolen files publicly available. Or they could try to monetize downloaded files in some other way. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, XcodeSpy can be used not only to download but also to upload files.

It is common that cybercriminals use such feature to spread malware or other unwanted software. It is important to mention that XcodeSpy malware installs a user LaunchAgent for persistence (malware stays active even after system reboot).

Threat Summary:
Name XcodeSpy backdoor
Threat Type Backdoor malware
Detection Names (EggShell backdoor) Avast (MacOS:Eggshell-L [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.MAC.Generic.105295), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/EggShell.M), Kaspersky (HEUR:Backdoor.OSX.EggShell.a), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Trojans-type 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 Trojanized/third-party Xcode projects
Damage Data, financial loss, loss of access to personal accounts, problems with browsing safety, online privacy
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 three days free trial available.

More examples of malicious software that cybercriminals use to attack Mac users are Silver Sparrow, Eleanor, and Proton.

In most cases, cybercriminals distribute malware with the purpose to steal personal information that could be monetized in one or another way or to infect computers with additional malware (e.g., Trojans, ransomware), that would allow them to steal information or blackmail victims.

As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, XcodeSpy spreads via shared malicious Xcode projects by abusing the Run Script feature. Therefore, Apple developers are strongly advised to check third-party Xcode projects for malicious Run Scripts while adopting them.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

It is likely that at least one of the malicious Xcode projects used to distribute XcodeSpy backdoor is (or was) available for download on a code hosting platform called GitHub. Various developer forums might be used as well.

More examples of channels that cybercriminals use to distribute their malware are malspam campaigns (emails with malicious attachments or links in them), fake software updaters, software 'cracking' tools (tools that illegally activate licensed software), certain Trojans, and unreliable sources for downloading files, programs.

Examples of questionable channels for downloading files are Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), third-party downloaders, freeware download websites, free file hosting pages, unofficial sites. It is important to mention that third-party installers can be malicious too.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

In this case, users (Apple developers) are advised to check shared Xcode projects for malicious Run Scripts while adopting them. Additionally, it is recommended to download files or software only from official websites and using direct download links.

In case you're using someone else's project, be sure that the source is reliable. Update or activate installed software using tools that its official developers provide. Never use any third-party, unofficial tools neither to update or activate the software.

Those tools can be malicious, and it is not legal to use third-party tools to activate licensed software. Additionally, it is strongly recommended not to trust irrelevant emails received from a suspicious, unknown sender. If such emails contain attachments, website links, then those files, links should not be opened/clicked.

It is important to remember that cybercriminals disguise their emails as official, important letters. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Eggshell backdoor file detected as a threat on VirusTotal:

xcodespy malware virustotal

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 three days free trial available.

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 xcodespy backdoor 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.

XcodeSpy backdoor removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove xcodespy backdoor 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 xcodespy backdoor 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 xcodespy backdoor 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.

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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
XcodeSpy backdoor QR code
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