Kobe Bryant wallpaper shows how hackers exploit mourning fans for cryptocurrency mining
Hackers are attempting to profit from the death of Kobe Bryant by hiding malware within downloadable pictures of the basketball legend.
Researchers at Microsoft Security Intelligence discovered that a desktop wallpaper of Bryant contained hidden software that secretly hijacked a person’s computer in order to mine cryptocurrency.
The so-called cryptojacking worm allows cyber criminals to use the victim’s processing power in order to generate cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“While the world mourns the loss of an NBA legend, cyber criminals are, as expected, taking advantage of the tragedy,” the researchers said.
“We found a malicious HTML file posing as a Kobe Bryant wallpaper that contains a coin mining script.”
Cryptojacking has become an increasingly popular method for hackers to make money, as it can be very difficult to spot for people unfamiliar with the cyber attack’s methods.
It usually involves hiding a malicious file within a legitimate one, such as an image or a video, which then executes the attack unnoticed in the background of a person’s phone or computer.
The malware has even been found within some websites, with visitors infected the moment they click on a link. It can usually be spotted when there is a sudden jump in the amount of processing power a device is using.
The growing trend has been found within images of various celebrities in recent months, often in the form of wallpapers that can be downloaded to a person’s desktop or smartphone.
Cryptojacking software was recently discovered within high-resolution images of musician Taylor Swift ad the actress Scarlett Johansson.
Cyber security firm Sonicwall registered over 50 million cryptojacking attacks in the first half of 2019, typically in the form of social engineering or other online scams similar to the Bryant malware.
Sonicwall said cryptojacking techniques were evolving but that it remained “relevant as a lucrative option for cyber criminals”.