Pirated software being used as gateways for cryptocurrency mining

Published on: 4 Jan 2018

Cryptocurrency mining software has been secretly installed on users’ PCs through pirated software commonly used for work and entertainment, such as photo and text editors, as part of a fraud scheme uncovered by Kaspersky Lab.

Criminals are using different tools and techniques, like social engineering campaigns or by exploiting cracked software, to affect as many PCs as possible, with any profits generated by the mining being pocketed by the perpetrators.

Kaspersky Lab experts have recently discovered a number of websites offering ways for users to download free pirated versions of popular computer programs and applications.

Domain names similar to the real ones have been incorporated in a bid to inspire confidence among users. Once a piece of software is downloaded, the user receives an archive file that also contains a mining program. This is then installed automatically, together with the desired software.

In most cases, the mining software isn’t malicious, but it does slow down the device’s system performance, in turn affecting the overall user experience.

Alexander Kolesnikov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, added that the extra workload carried out by the device also increases the victim’s electricity bill.

He commented: “Of course, some people might be okay with the knowledge that an anonymous person is becoming richer at their expense, but we advise users to resist these attempts as, even though it is not being conducted with standard malicious software, it is still a fraudulent activity.”