Scammers take advantage of Kobe Bryant’s death to steal crypto

Not too surprisingly, it didn’t take long for some foolish individual to try to take advantage of the death of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Microsoft security experts have uncovered malware hidden in downloadable images of The Black Mamba that can hijack a computer and mine cryptocurrencies. Fortunately, the damage appears to be limited.

Microsoft Security Intelligence posted about the cryptojacking malware on Twitter, stating, “While the world mourns the loss of an NBA legend, cybercriminals are, as expected, taking advantage of the tragedy. We found a malicious HTML file posing as a Kobe Bryant wallpaper that contains a coin mining script.”

Any computer that runs Windows Defender actively is automatically protected. The security software reportedly detects the malware when visiting a website that holds the infected file and prevents it from being downloaded and installed. However, erring on the side of caution is recommended and no graphics of Bryant should be downloaded, except from reliable sources and to a computer that has fully updated antivirus protection.

Bryant isn’t the only high-profile target to be used to try to spread crypto-malware lately. Concern surrounding the coronavirus has been used to propagate malware through emails and links. Specifically, the Emotet trojan is carried and IBM X-Force, along with Kaspersky Labs, explains, “The practice of leveraging worldwide events by basing malicious emails on current important topics has become common among cyber criminals. Such a strategy is able to trick more victims into clicking malicious links or opening malicious files, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of a malware campaign. What makes these attacks rather special, is the fact that they deliver the Emotet trojan, which has shown increased activity recently. It achieves this by urging its victims into opening an attached Word document, described as a supposed notice regarding infection prevention measures.”

Microsoft’s latest Edge web browser has been developed to specifically stop malware from being installed. It’s a relatively new feature, so evidence of its functionality is still lacking, but Microsoft Principal Program Manager Eric Lawrence explains in a tweet that it is better than SmartScreen and SafeBrowsing blockers, and adds, “The feature shown here goes further by optionally blocking downloads that contain potentially unwanted (but not technically malware) code– think a utility app that also bundles in a crypto miner or notification spammer.”

In general, malware attacks are on the decline. This is due, in part, to a more aware Internet community and better security. However, cryptojacking software is still out there and Netizens have to ensure they’re protected to keep the malware from continuing to spread.

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