A hacker group is trying to leverage the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine as it distributes malware that is capable of targeting bitcoin wallets.
A report by Bitdefender Labs, a cybersecurity firm that focuses on the digital currency market, highlights how an alleged hacker group disguised one form of malware as another. According to the report, the perpetrators distributed software that they described as capable of disrupting the digital activities of Western governments fighting against Russia.
In reality, the program secretly installs a malware package called Kelihos. This malicious program, first identified nearly five years ago, is capable of stealing the contents of a user’s bitcoin wallets, among other negative effects.
Notably, the most recent attack targeted Ukrainian Internet users disproportionately, accounting for roughly 40% of those impacted. In a statement, Bitdefender analyst Doina Cosovan explained:
Beyond bitcoin theft, the Kelihos malware is capable of enslaving a host computer to a global botnet, allowing a hacker to use that machine to distribute spam, scan data or even continue the spread of the malicious software.
Masked as nationalist initiative
Bitdefender indicated that the hackers tried to pass off their “software” as a way for affected users to create problems for the Russian government. Notably, the message accompanying the malware claimed that the hacker group was located inside Russia itself.
The message read:
As Bitdefender explained, the message included a link that downloads the Kelihos program – and with it, the capability for the hackers to begin seizing control of the computer.
Malware threat still exists
Despite improvements in the ways that people can store their digital currency, the threat of malware attacks targeting bitcoin balances remains.
The malware problem has attracted the attention of government officials and financial regulators, and often forms the basis for consumer and investor warnings on the topic of digital currency.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.