Infected WAV files can install malware & cryptominers on PCs

Harmless-looking audio files can distribute cryptocurrency miners and malware? Indeed these can!

Harmless-looking audio files can distribute cryptocurrency miners and malware? Indeed these can!

According to security researchers at BlackBerry Cylance a new malware campaign is doing the rounds over the internet. This campaign uses WAV files for delivering malware via steganography. While using these malicious files the user may not suspect any foul play because there is no indication that there could be something wrong and the files keep playing audio as normally happens.

The campaign was discovered by researchers Anuj Soni, Jordan Barth, and Brian Marks. Just like any malware campaign, the infected WAV files are delivered through emails. As soon as the files are run, these start installing and running a Monero cryptocurrency mining tool or launch a remote attack using Metasploit code’s ability to establish reverse shell.

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“Our analysis reveals some of the WAV files contain code associated with the XMRig Monero CPU miner. Others included the Metasploit code used to establish a reverse shell. Both payloads were discovered in the same environment, suggesting a two-pronged campaign to deploy malware for financial gain and establish remote access within the victim network,” researchers wrote in their blog post.

The code embedded in the WAV files is associated with a cryptocurrency miner called XMRig, which mines for Monero. This means, the scammers are receiving two primary benefits from a single campaign; that is, making money through mining and remotely accessing the victim’s network.

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Each of these infected files, explain the researchers, is equipped with a “loader component,” which discreetly decodes and executes malicious content. This content is embedded deeply into the audio data of the file, therefore, whenever an infected file is played, the music may sometimes have noticeable quality issues or malfunctions or may keep playing music like normal.

Moreover, some files may keep producing white noise. Since the malicious code is hidden in WAV files, it is quite difficult to detect it and researchers noted that it isn’t even restricted to audio files too as the malware can be hidden in any file type. 

To stay safe, it is recommended that you should not open suspicious files in your email as the infected audio files are distributed via emails. Also, use a trustworthy anti-virus program and keep your system updated.

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