Windows EXE Files Are Infecting macOS


Say what now? Tech savvy readers among you will be aware that EXE files don’t run on Macs, as these executable files are specifically designed for Windows.

And yet, in an interesting new development, hackers have found a clever way to deploy existing technology to use these types of files on macOS machines to actually infect these devices. All this, when executable files can’t run on Macs by default.

Worse yet, these are more dangerous on the Apple operating system than on Windows.

Security vendor Trend Micro discovered this new tactic, and reveals how it all comes down to a DMG file that packs an executable file. This is then used to deploy additional malicious payloads on the target system.

Windows EXE Mac

Their analysis:

“Currently, running EXE on other platforms may have a bigger impact on non-Windows systems such as MacOS. Normally, a mono framework installed in the system is required to compile or load executables and libraries.

In this case, however, the bundling of the files with the said framework becomes a workaround to bypass the systems given EXE is not a recognized binary executable by MacOS’ security features. As for the native library differences between Windows and MacOS, mono framework supports DLL mapping to support Windows-only dependencies to their MacOS counterparts.”

The lengths some people go to deploy malware!

Since executable files can’t run on macOS by default, the malware authors have included a copy of Mono, which is a free framework that makes all this possible. This makes EXEs even more dangerous on Macs than on Microsoft’s native operating system.

Trend Micro says that once malware is launched, the EXE file deploys adware apps and collects information about the compromised system like its model name and installed applications.

Of course, the best way to stay secure on both Windows and macOS is simply to avoid downloading files from unverified sources, while running security software that offers solid protection.

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