As cryptocurrency continues to gain in popularity across the world, an unfortunate side effect is the influx of hackers and their malware, designed to steal cryptocurrency from other people’s computers.
A prime example of this is a type of malware recently discovered by a group of cyber security researchers that has traveled its way around the globe via the Facebook Messenger app.
The cyber defense experts who first learned about this malicious program have named the malware, “Digmine.” The malware acts as a bot, infecting computers and mining for digital currency for its creators. The cryptocurrency of choice for these hackers appears to be Monero.
First discovered in South Korea, Digmine has since made its way into Ukraine, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Venezuela and Thailand. The bot has spread rapidly, utilizing its hijacked systems to infect other computers,similar to a virus. Researchers believe that it has probably infiltrated other countries where it has been able to remain hidden. Due to information about the program and where it was first discovered, original place of creation tends to point back to North Korea, already responsible for several other hacking events where various forms of cryptocurrency was stolen from several other countries.
Digmine works by appearing to be a video link sent via Messenger to its victims. When a person opens the link, it executes a script that affects the Facebook Messenger’s desktop, and web versions that use Google Chrome for their browser. Once in control of the browsers, the malware then downloads the tools needed to run the mining operation.
Users who have their Facebook accounts set up to log in automatically are at further risk, because Digmine can hijack Messenger to send the file to all of the user’s friends. Right now, Facebook is simply the platform being used to spread the malicious program, but researchers warn that hijackers could eventually take control of a user’s entire Facebook account in the future.
After researchers reported their discovery to Facebook, the company swiftly worked to remove most of the links to Digmine from its Messenger app, stating, “We maintain a number of automated systems to help stop harmful links and files from appearing on Facebook and in Messenger. If we suspect your computer is infected with malware, we will provide you with a free anti-virus scan from our trusted partners.”
Still, as hacking problems like this continue to be an issue, experts urge people to keep their computers secure and up-to-date, and to not click on anything that seems out of the ordinary.