Kaspersky Labs, the cyber security firm, has warned as students go back to schools and colleges for the new academic year that computer viruses are becoming more prevalent when downloading work and study-related materials.

The cost of textbooks and other study aids prompts many students to seek less expensive, or even free, alternatives. But malicious content can be encountered among much of this material: essays, study guides, textbooks and other sources.

This malware includes cryptomining programs that will surreptitiously mine digital assets for their owners and sap the processing power of the infected computer and possibly push up the household’s electricity bills.

A study by Kaspersky of its users showed that cybercriminals targeted the field of education more 356,000 times, 233,000 of which were malicious essays.

Types of Malware

The four most popular types of malware used by cybercriminals targeting educational material were as follows:

  • 4th – MediaGet torrrent application downloader: This downloader will retrieve a torrent client – a software protocol that allows the transfer of data between computers linked to the internet without the need for a central server.
  • 3rd – WinLNK.Agent.gen downloader: As a rule these downloaders launch malicious cryptomining programs.
  • 2nd – Win32.Agent.ifdx malware downloader: Again, most commonly this type of malware downloads cryptominers, but can also download spyware and ransomware.
  • 1st – Stalk worm spamming: Stalk is dangerous because it can infect other devices on the local network or through flash drives if students save material for printing at school. The malware can download other malicious applications to the infected device and copy and send files from the computer to the malware owners.