Aside for being illegal, pirating games is clearly unethical, but it’s also risky for your computer, as criminals throw malware into the mix, as well.
Cybercriminals are at it again, and their efforts to try and make money of your suffering continues, but it’s not always from the amount of scams that seemingly never end.
In fact, one of the latest threats popping up comes from a new piece of malware infecting computers around the world dependent on what has been installed on those computers.
It’s something picked up by Avast Threat Labs, with a piece of malware that uses the processor power found in your computer to mine for cryptocurrency, wasting your system’s resources and using it to make money for cybercriminals infecting your gear.
Called “Crackonosh”, it’s a Windows-specific piece of software that installs when you install some other software, disabling some security software in the process and using your hardware to mine for cryptocurrency, before sending it to a criminal’s digital wallet.
One more form of cryptocurrency-based malware meant to steal something from you, the way in which Crackonosh is being introduced to computers is something a little bit different: essentially, it’s being installed through pirated games being downloaded around the world.
Avast says over 222,000 computers around the world have seen the cryptomining malware since December last year, including close to 3000 in Australia, and just under a thousand in New Zealand. The official tallies ring in at 2837 computers in Australia and 900 in New Zealand, and these are just the ones Avast has identified, with more possibly out there.
It means that between Australia and New Zealand, there’s no less than 4000 computers seeing their processor power wasted on cryptocurrency mining for criminals, though the number could easily be much higher, with the malware reportedly found in pirated games including Far Cry 5, Grand Theft Auto V, Jurassic World Evolution, The Sims 4, We Happy Few, and Fallout 4 Game of the Year edition. The malware won’t be there on the official versions, of course, but gamers downloading dodgy versions over may find malware inside, much of which has mined over $2 million dollars worth of crypto for criminals.
It’s not just Australia and New Zealand under threat from the Crackonosh malware, either, with infected users in the US, India, Brazil, the UK, France, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Greece, Indonesia, and others.
“As long as people continue to download cracked software, attacks like these will continue to be profitable for attackers,” said Avast’s Daniel Beneš.
“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,” he said.