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Hackers are using YouTube videos to trick people into installing malware

YouTube videos used to promote fake bitcoin mining software

Cybercriminals have begun to lean on YouTube to distribute potent malware, security experts have discovered.

Researchers from Cyble Research Labs recently stumbled upon more than 80 videos with relatively few viewers, and all belonging to the same user. The videos seem to demonstrate how a piece of bitcoin mining software operates, in an attempt to persuade viewers to download it.

The download link is found in the video’s description and comes in a password-protected archive, to convince victims of its legitimacy. To add to the effect, the downloaded archive also comes with a link to VirusTotal, showing the file as “clean”, and a warning that some antivirus programs might trigger a false positive alert.

No false positives

The malware itself, called PennyWise, steals all kinds of data, from system information to login credentials, cookies, encryption keys, and master passwords. It also steals Discord tokens and Telegram sessions and takes screenshots along the way.

Furthermore, it scans the device for potential cryptocurrency wallets, cold storage wallet data, and crypto-related browser add-ons.

When it collects all of the above, it compresses it into a single file and sends it over to a server under the attackers’ control. It then self-destructs.

PennyWise is also capable of analyzing its surroundings and making sure it’s not operating in a defended environment. If it discovers it’s in a sandbox, or that an analysis tool is running on the device, it will stop all actions immediately.

The researchers discovered the malware will completely stop all operations if it discovers that the victim’s endpoint is located in either Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, or Kazakhstan, offering some clue as to the affiliation of the operators.

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