According to a study published by security firm Avast, cybercriminals target gamers with “mining malware” as they seek to get rich in crypto.
The “Crackonosh” malware is hidden in free versions of games like NBA 2K19, Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 5, The Sims 4 and Jurassic World Evolution, which are available for download from torrent sites, Avast said Thursday. .
Once installed, Crackonosh quietly uses the processing power of the computer to mine cryptocurrencies for hackers. The malware has been used to generate $ 2 million from a cryptocurrency known as Moreno since at least June 2018, according to Avast.
Avast researcher Daniel Benes told CNBC that infected users may notice their computers slowing down or deteriorating due to overuse, while their electricity bill may also be higher than normal.
âIt takes all the resources that the computer has for the computer to not respond,â he said.
Some 220,000 users have been infected worldwide and 800 devices are infected every day, according to Benes. However, Avast only detects malware on devices that have its antivirus software installed, so the actual number could be significantly higher. Brazil, India and the Philippines are among the worst affected countries, while the United States has also seen many cases.
Researchers said that Crackonosh takes several steps to try to protect itself once it has been installed, including disabling Windows updates and uninstalling security software.
As to where the malware came from, Avast believes the author may be Czech – Crackonosh means âmountain spiritâ in Czech folklore.
Avast discovered the malware after customers reported that the company’s antivirus was missing from their systems, citing an example of a user posting to Reddit. The company said it investigated this report and others like it.
âIn summary, Crackonosh shows the risks of downloading pirated software and demonstrates that it is very profitable for attackers,â Benes wrote.
“As long as people continue to download pirated software, attacks like these will continue to pay off for attackers,” Benes added. âThe key to remember is that you really can’t get something for nothing and when you’re trying to steal software there’s a good chance someone is trying to steal from you. “
This isn’t the first time malware has impacted games. Cisco-Talos researchers discovered malware in cheat software for several games in March. Meanwhile, a new hacking campaign targeted gamers through the Steam platform earlier this month.
The number of cyber attacks against gamers increased 340% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an Akamai Security Research report this week.
“Criminals are relentless and we have the data to show it,” said Steve Ragan, security researcher at Akamai and author of the State of the Internet / Security report.
âWe are seeing remarkable persistence in the video game industry’s defenses tested daily – and often hourly – by criminals looking for vulnerabilities to breach servers and expose information. group discussions form on popular social networks, networks dedicated to sharing attack techniques and best practices. “