Information security company Avast has released a new report indicating that cybercriminals are targeting free game users with a new type of malware that aims to exploit computers to mine cryptocurrency.
The report found that free versions of games such as NBA 2K19, Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 5 and The The Sims 4 and Jurassic World Evolution contain a new type of malware called Crackonosh.
The report said “We have found a new malware that we are currently calling (Krakonosh) due to some possible indication that the author of the malware may be Czech. The software is deployed with illegal and pirated copies of common software and disables many popular antivirus programs as part of anti-malware detection tactics”, as the security company wrote.
Avast has found that the malware has so far been used to generate $2 million worth of cryptocurrency known as “Moreno” since at least June 2018, using the processor power of gamers who use the software to play while the programs exploit their devices quietly to mine cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency mining is a process of manufacturing digital currency using computer processors, and cryptocurrency mining is an excessive load on computer processors, and must slow down or even destroy the personal computer.
If it continues like this, victims of the scam may soon find themselves needing to replace their computers.
To give you a glimpse of how much electricity this process consumes, the Cambridge researchers say that “mining” the cryptocurrency for bitcoin consumes about 121.36 TWh per year.
Bitcoin consumption of electricity in Argentina exceeds (121 TWh) and in the Netherlands (108.8 TWh), which made some people question whether mining cryptocurrency is ethical.
About 220,000 users are affected worldwide, and 800 devices are vulnerable to attacks every day, Daniel Benes, a researcher at Avast, told CNBC.
This is only the number of devices that have Avast Antivirus installed, which means that the actual number may be much higher.
Krakonosh was spotted when some Avast customers complained that their security software disappeared, because the malware disables Windows updates and removes security software to protect itself.
Benes said “As long as people keep downloading cracked software, such attacks will continue to be profitable for hackers.”
He Added “The key with this type of attack is that you can’t really get something for nothing, so when you try to steal software chances are someone is trying to steal from you.”