New Malware MosaicLoader Takes Unusual Attack Vector

August 5, 2021

ZDNet warns us about some micro targeting from bad actors in, “This Password-Stealing Windows Malware is Distributed Via Ads in Search Results.” The malware was first identified by Bitdefender, which named it MosaicLoader. The security experts believe a new group is behind these attacks, one not tied to any known entities. Writer Danny Palmer tells us:

“MosaicLoader can be used to download a variety of threats onto compromised machines, including Glupteba, a type of malware that creates a backdoor onto infected systems, which can then be used to steal sensitive information, including usernames and passwords, as well as financial information. Unlike many forms of malware, which get distributed via phishing attacks or unpatched software vulnerabilities, MosaicLoader is delivered to victims via advertising. Links to the malware appear at the top of search results when people search for cracked versions of popular software. Automated systems used to buy and serve advertising space likely means that nobody in the chain – aside from the attackers – know the adverts are malicious at all. The security company said that employees working from home are at higher risk of downloading cracked software. ‘Most likely, attackers are purchasing adverts with downstream ad networks – small ad networks that funnel ad traffic to larger and larger providers. They usually do this over the weekend when manual ad vetting is impacted by the limited staff on call,’ Bogdan Botezatu, director of threat research and reporting at Bitdefender, told ZDNet.”

Antivirus software might catch MosaicLoader—if users have not disabled it because they are downloading illegally cracked software. Oops. Once downloaded, the malware can steal usernames and passwords, farm out crypto currency mining, and install Trojan software through which malefactors can access the machine. Users should be safe if they do not attempt to download pirated software. Sometimes, though, such software does a good job of posing as legitimate. Palmer advises readers to avoid being duped by navigating away if instructed to disable antivirus software before downloading any program. That is always good advice.

Cynthia Murrell, August 5, 2021


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