People seem to love celebrities. Even cryptocurrency hackers have a thing for famous individuals as recently witnessed in a case of one hacker utilizing an image of famed pop singer Taylor Swift to hide malicious code.
Taylor Swift Is Hiding a Botnet
Taylor Swift is widely renowned for her capabilities as a musician, actress and marketer. Now, it appears she was unknowingly part of a cryptocurrency botnet that sought to hide crypto malware on infected computers. The botnet is known as MyKingz, which according to various cybersecurity firms, also goes by the names of Dark Cloud and Hexmen.
The botnet has been around since roughly 2017 and is basically another tool being utilized in crypto jacking schemes, which remain popular amongst cyberthieves and hackers. Crypto jacking is a process in which a malicious individual gains control of a user’s computer or mobile device without their knowledge or consent. From there, they can use the person’s electricity to mine cryptocurrencies, raking in a huge profit while the device owner gets nothing minus large energy bills that arrive in the mail each month.
It’s an ugly sight, and it’s terribly unfair. Nevertheless, the process seems to be gaining serious traction in the crypto industry, and MyKingz is just the latest tool to make it happen. The botnet seeks to infect Windows systems and deploys mining malware that allows hackers to rake in digital profits through the energy utilized by one’s device.
So, where does the image of the recently labeled “artist of the decade” come into play? It’s all part of the hackers’ latest excursions into the world of steganography, which is the process of hiding malicious files within real ones. The image of Swift is just a simple JPEG image that likely wouldn’t do much harm on its own. The hacker, however, is using it to hide a hazardous EXE, which inherently tricks security software into thinking all is well with a device.
Granted a computer doesn’t pick up on the malicious presence or attack code, antivirus systems are virtually incapacitated, and the malware is designed to mine crypto remains on one’s device for as long as the hacker deems necessary.
Cases Like These Are Running Rampant
Thieves have a very bad habit of using celebrity images to get their fingers on cryptocurrency they didn’t earn. Late last year, Twitter scammers created a phony profile of Tesla and SpaceX executive Elon Musk to convince people to send in BTC funds to wallets the hackers ultimately controlled. Twitter ultimately took no blame for the incident, instead saying the activity was the result of a “third-party app.”
Cybersecurity researchers warned social media users to keep their eyes out for misspellings and grammar mistakes along with doctored images, as these were usually tell-tale signs that a scam was brewing.