Monero Malware Botnet Lurks Behind Taylor Swift JPEGs

Researchers have printed a new report on what they deem to be a “relentless” crypto mining botnet that lurks behind seemingly innocuous content material equivalent to JPEG photographs of Taylor Swift.

The botnet — finest referred to as MyKings (alternatively as DarkCloud or Smominru) — has been energetic since 2016, in accordance with a Dec. 18 news release from Gabor Szappanos at SophosLabs.

Whereas all “underpatched, low-hanging fruit” on the web — to make use of Sophos’ phrasing — has lengthy been weak to its assaults, not too long ago the actors behind MyKings have allegedly added bootkit functionality, which makes it all of the extra immune to detection and efficient elimination.

$3M in Monero illicitly mined by way of MyKings thus far

SophosLabs’ report supplies a full overview of the botnet’s operations, which Szappanos characterizes as a “relentlessly redundant [i.e. repetitive] attacker” that assaults largely Home windows-based providers that hosts database administration techniques equivalent to MqSQL and MS-SQL, community protocols equivalent to Telnet, and even servers working CCTV digital camera storage.

The report notes that the botnet’s creators seem to want to make use of open supply or different public area software program and are extremely expert at customizing and enhancing supply code to insert customized parts that may execute assaults and carry out automated replace processes.

The botnet launches a sequence of assaults towards a server with the purpose of delivering a malware executable, often a Trojan dubbed “Forshare,” which was discovered to be the commonest payload on contaminated servers. 

Forshare is used to make sure that varied completely different Monero (XMR) cryptominers run on the focused , with SophosLabs’ estimating that the botnet operators have earned roughly $three million in Monero thus far. This interprets right into a present earnings of round $300 per day, as a result of cryptocurrency’s not too long ago decrease relative valuation.

Not what she appears

Supply: SophosLabs Uncut Report

Within the studied instance — an imperceptibly modified picture of the pop star Taylor Swift — SophosLabs explains that the .jpg picture had been uploaded to a public repository, concealing inside it an executable that might mechanically replace the botnet when downloaded.

SophosLabs’ analysis reveals the delicate nature of MyKings’ persistence mechanism, which perpetuates itself via aggressive repetition and self-updating procedures utilizing a number of command combos. 

“Even when a lot of the parts of the botnet are faraway from the pc, the remaining ones have the potential to revive it to full energy just by updating themselves. All of that is orchestrated utilizing self-extracting RAR archives and Home windows batch information.”

The report signifies that the international locations with the best variety of contaminated hosts are at the moment China, Taiwan, Russia, Brazil, the USA, India and Japan.

Latest Monero crimes

In November, Cointelegraph reported that the software program out there for obtain on Monero’s official web site,, had been briefly compromised to steal cryptocurrency and drain customers’ wallets.

That very same month, Slovakian software program safety agency Eset revealed that cybercriminals working a botnet referred to as Stantinko had been distributing a Monero cryptocurrency mining module by way of Youtube.

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