Microsoft’s security intelligence unit has found cryptocurrency mining malware hidden in a wallpaper of the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
The tech firm’s security researchers tweeted out that cybercriminals are taking advantage of Bryant’s tragic death by publishing a “malicious HTML file posing as a Kobe Bryant wallpaper that contains a coin mining script.” In a follow-up tweet, they clarified Microsoft Defender SmartScreen blocks the website hosting the mining script.
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. pic.twitter.com/w2JwPvqFy5— Microsoft Security Intelligence (@MsftSecIntel) January 30, 2020
The script notably mentions CoinHive, an in-browser cryptocurrency mining service that helped fuel a cryptojacking trend. CoinHive shut down in February of last year over the cryptocurrency market’s downturn, and over new upgrades being made to the Monero (XMR) network.
Some estimates claim that at its peak, the service was making $250,000 a month. As XMR’s price started dropping, so did interest in using the code, to the point profits started dwindling. After the service went down, the number of cryptojacking attacks dropped considerably.
Use of the late Kobe Bryant’s wallpaper to spread cryptocurrency mining malware isn’t the first time cybercriminals have exploited celebrity images to propagate malware. As report, late last year the MyKingz botnet was found to be using photos of Taylor Swift to propagate and infect new computers.
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