Crypto Mining Malware Hides in Google Translate App as Well as Other Trustworthy Applications

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The crypto miner malware program known as “Nitrokod”, which has infected computers in 11 different countries, was recently discovered by a group of researchers from an organization, Check Point Research (CPR). CPR cybersecurity experts have revealed that this malware has infected thousands of Windows PCs and laptops around the world.

While this threatening strain of malware may have only recently come to light, it has been around for quite some time. To ensure that the individual does not notice increases in PC power consumption, attackers wait a month after installing the app before starting to mine cryptocurrency. The malware could not be detected previously as it was not detected in many authentic looking applications available on various platforms.

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How does this malware disguise itself?

Some of the places where this malware has been hidden have been found by researchers. One of them poses as the “official Google Translate client,” according to CPR researchers. With the help of the Chrome browser, users can perform a Google search and the malware will try to enter the system by appearing at the top of the search results if you enter “Google Translate desktop download” in the Google search field.

The study also reveals that the malware is hidden among a number of legitimate apps published on free software sources such as Softpedia and credited to Nitrokod Inc. On some websites, the malicious software will exclaim that they are “100% clean”, while in in fact, they contain mining malware.

Under the illusion of being a trustworthy app, Nitrokod is a Trojan horse that silently undermines Monero on your system. This implies that users who install the program may unintentionally participate in the mining setup of a Monero miner. Unintentional extraction consumes a lot of computing resources, which greatly reduces the performance of a computer system.

How does this malware attack?

A scheduled task function is used to start the malware installation process after the malicious program has been downloaded. A complex mining system for Monero cryptocurrency based on the proof of work mining model is subsequently installed by this destructive spyware. Hence, it provides the campaign mind with secret access to infected systems, allowing it to fool people and later damage devices.

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Nitrokod has generally attacked those applications that were widely used by people, which is why the Google Translate app which has gotten thousands of downloads since 2019 made it onto that list. As soon as the user installs an app attacked by this malware, this malware ensures that it does not produce any noticeable change in system performance.

Malware doesn’t start mining Monero immediately; rather, it waits for some time and then starts activating the computer’s performance. Overall, it starts mining Monero using system energy after a span of one month.

To be more protected, the Nitrokod team has the ability to extract only using a small part of the computer’s power, which would barely affect the speed. In this case, the detection of this malware becomes more difficult for the users and stays longer in the system.

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Implications for Monero

Monero guarantees complete anonymity to its owners. There are benefits to the Monero community despite the fact that such malware may annoy those who have accidentally installed programs like the above or who may have been attacked from their system by this malware in another way.

Due to the popularity of this malware, far more people are mining Monero than would normally be the case, deliberately or unknowingly, and Monero’s hash rate can increase in a way that wouldn’t be imaginable if Monero didn’t have such excellent privacy. It will be interesting to see how regulators react to this malware attack and ensure the protection of users.

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