Internet security company Avast has detected that malware known as Crackonosh has infected over 222,000 computers with the aim of generating cryptocurrency gains for hackers. The silent malware-infected computers used for downloading illegal or cracked versions of video games such as “NBA 2K19,” “Grand Theft Auto V,” “Far Cry 5,” “The Sims 4,” and “Jurassic World Evolution” among others.
These games are usually available for free downloads on torrent sites, Avast revealed. According to Avast security researcher, Daniel Benes, the malware has generated more than $2 million in Monero, a cryptocurrency, for hackers since June 2018 when the virus went into effect. Users of infected computers may notice that their PC slows down remarkably or consume higher electricity since the malware harnesses the entire processing power of the computer to mine for cryptocurrency.
Benes said Crackonosh, which means “the mountain spirit” in Czech folklore, is believed to have originated from the Czech Republic, and now widespread in the United States, India, the Philippines, and Brazil. Avast finds it difficult to determine the actual number of infected computers or the global reach of the virus since only PC users who have installed Avast antivirus reported the malware.
Benes noted that it might be nearly impossible to get rid of the Crackonosh since it disables installed security software and prevents Windows antivirus from updating. He noted that this problem demonstrates that downloading cracked versions of software and video games comes with serious risks that may expose users to unknown exploitation.
“In summary, Crackonosh shows the risks in downloading cracked software and demonstrates that it is highly profitable for attackers,” Benes disclosed. “As long as people continue to download cracked software, attacks like these will continue to be profitable for attackers. 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.”
The hackers seemed to favor mining Monero since it is a cryptocurrency that is harder to trace than Bitcoin and other cryptos. Cybercriminals favor Monero because it is relatively unknown to many people and could be engineered for crypto-mining and cyber-attacks. But then, this is not the first time that hackers had tried to take over users’ PCs through downloaded and cheat games or software.
Akamai Security Research stated that hackers targeted online gamers for exploitation during the COVID-19 lockdown, and they have not relented yet. The company said hackers target the video game industry and also strive to breach Microsoft’s SQL servers and those of other computer organizations. They even go as far as sharing their tricks on social networks for the benefit and gains of other hackers.