Cyber criminals are capitalizing on the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant by tricking fans into installing mining malware when they download desktop wallpapers. Microsoft Security Intelligence announced that hackers hid malicious HTML code with a cryptojacking script in these type of images.
Cryptojacking is the practice where cyber criminals use the processing power of their victim’s computer to mine cryptocurrencies. To do this, they for example search for security weaknesses or trick people into installing the mining malware. In recent months cyber criminals often steganography to hide this software. In these cases the cyber criminals hid the command to download and execute certain code inside another file, for example audio files, WordPress plugins or images.
The hackers picked Kobe Bryant for their next series of attacks because of his unfortunate death last week. The former NBA star died in a helicopter accident with his 13 year old daughter and seven other people, including children.
Kobe Bryant isn’t the first celebrity who’s used (or abused) by cyber criminals. In December Taylor Swift became the face of a gigantic botnet operation that probably infected thousands of computers worldwide. The MyKingz botnet made at least 3 million dollars with this cryptojacking attack.
Cryptojacking a numbers game
Hackers who are actively cryptojacking don’t care about the computing power, as everything they do is a number game. By infecting twenty thousand routers they are able to generate the same amount of cryptocurrencies as a couple of computers.
As a result cryptojacking is all about finding badly secured computers and hardware using widely known weaknesses. The idea is that nobody updates their hardware properly. These cyber attacks abuse this passive attitude of the general public.
When it comes down to the numbers, there’s a decrease of infected computers and malware deployments. At the same time virus scanners often recognize crypto malware. This month Interpol published a report about 20 thousand infected routers in Southeast Asia.
Also published on Medium.