A research team employed by the cybersecurity firm called Check Point Software Technologies recently found that there’s a crypto-mining malware that’s been invading computers since 2019, masquerading as Google Translate, YouTube Music, and other legit apps.
How the scam works is that it tricks users into installing fake apps that look legit, but which come along with secret crypto-mining software. The crypto miner takes a couple of days to install, which is why most users don’t even notice that a battery-wasting performance-reducing app has gotten on their device.
The result is that more than 112,000 computers across 11 countries have been infected with the malware.
The Fake Desktop Version of Google Translate
Google Translate has its mobile version, but it doesn’t have a desktop app. That’s something that the victims of the crypto-mining scheme did not know – they downloaded the virus-infected fake app to their PCs, thus opening the door to the malware.
How this happened is that the scammers uploaded the fake app to software downloading sites like Uptodown and Softpedia. Not only did they put the app there, but they also did extensive work of making it look legit, posting hundreds of fake reviews.
As a result, the fake app had a 9.3 rating on Softpedia, which made the users think it was 100% legit.
Those who downloaded and installed this app have inadvertently installed a crypto miner on their device. Even after deleting the app, most of them weren’t able to remove the miner, which continued to mine cryptos, Monero (XMR), to be precise.
Monero (XMR) Seems to be the Preferred Crypto of Cybercriminals
As per in-depth research by Financial Times from last year, Monero (XMR) is one of the favorite cryptocurrencies among cybercriminals. One of the cybersecurity experts interviewed by FT, Monero could be used in more than 50% of all ransomware cases.
The reason behind this is that Monero is a “privacy coin” which was designed in 2014 with the purpose of keeping the identity of both the sender and the receiver completely obscure. This makes it a much better alternative to Bitcoin in the eyes of privacy-conscious users. Unfortunately, its ability to keep transactions anonymous also makes it the preferred cryptocurrency of cybercriminals.
In September 2022, Monero is the 27th most popular cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market capitalization. However, Monero is the third-most popular cryptocurrency among developers. It’s also very popular among crypto miners, one of the reasons being the fact that it doesn’t require much computing power. In fact, in 2022, Monero is still one of the cryptos that can be mined with GPUs.
The price of one XMR is $154.03 at the moment of writing, which is more than three times less than its record value from May 2021. This year, however, its highest price was $266.99, which it reached in April.