August 2, 2021

Hackers are Using Infected PC Games to Make Millions Mining Crypto

Antivirus company Avast has discovered a new malware named “Crackonosh” that is being hidden in free versions of popular PC games. The malware hijacks your computer to be used in crypto mining.

The crypto mining malware is being hidden deep within versions of popular titles like Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 5, The Sims 4, and Jurassic World Evolution along with various games in the NBA2K series. It should be noted that the versions of these games that are affected are not coming from legit sources, instead, they are pirated copies making the rounds on forums and torrent sites.

Once downloaded and installed, Crackonosh then makes itself at home within the computer’s processor to hijack it and use it to mine cryptocurrencies for the hackers. So far, reports show that the Crackonosh mining malware has made its creators north of $2 million in crypto since June of 2018. The coin which Crackonosh is focused on mining is Monero

In an interview with CNBC, Daniel Benes, a researcher for Avast, stated that the malware “Takes all the resources that the computer has so the computer is unresponsive.” Benes also said that users will notice their computers are slower and continue to see the deteriorating performance through overuse. The malware does well to protect itself by disabling Windows updates and uninstalling your antivirus software. Avast stated their belief that the Crackonosh malware is of Czech origin as the name means mountain spirit in local lore. 

By some estimations, more than 200,000 Avast users globally have been infected with nearly 1000 more devices exposed daily. These are just the Avast users who have been affected mind you, the total number of infections worldwide is likely far greater. 

Crackonosh attack is just the latest to target gamers

Crackonosh is not the first time that cybercriminals have targeted video games to help carry out attacks. While many of these attacks are targeting gamers who acquire their software illegally, some are being found in legit copies of games distributed online. 

A recent hacking campaign involving Steam, one of the most popular places online to buy digital copies of games, was attempted earlier in June. According to Akamai, cyberattacks on gamers have jumped around 350% since the pandemic hit. 

Benes concludes his statements on the matter by saying that as long as gamers continue to download illegal, unregulated games, the attackers will continue to target and profit off them. “The key take-away from this is that you really can’t get something for nothing, and when you try to steal software, odds are someone is trying to steal from you.”

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