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[News] Hackers attack pirates

Avast ye gamers and other scallywags! In a strange twist of fate, people playing pirated versions of many popular video games may have to pay a much higher price than what an official copy of the game would have cost.

Gizmodo reports that pirated copies of many popular PC games contain malware dubbed “Crackonosh.” This malware quietly installs itself onto a victim’s computer and remains dormant until the system has been restarted several times, and then gets to work crypto-mining for the cybercriminals.

The hack was, ironically, discovered by anti-virus provider Avast. According to Avast malware analyst Daniel Beneš, “Crackonosh installs itself by replacing critical Windows system files and abusing the Windows Safe mode to impair system defenses,” and then disables security software and OS updates. It’s so insidious that it can be very difficult to detect and remove, as it deletes antivirus software.

Some of the games affected include pirated versions of Grand Theft Auto V, The Sims 4, Fallout 4 GOTY, and NBA 2K19. 

As noted on the Avast site, “Crackonosh has been circulating since at least June 2018 and has yielded over $2,000,000 USD for its authors in Monero from over 222,000 infected systems worldwide.”

For more details on how they discovered the hack, how it impacts PCs, a full list of games in which they’ve discovered the code, and how to try to remove the malware from your computer, visit the detailed article from Avast. And if your computer is infected, as the old pirate saying goes, we wish you a fair wind ever and always. 

In other news

  • The report on UFOs — update. Back in May, we reported that U.S. Senator Marcus Rubio had requested an investigation by the Pentagon into UFOs. After a series of videos taken by military personnel seemed to show advanced flying craft over U.S. waters, the interim report released this week concludes there’s ‘too little data,’ and ‘no explanation’ so far. Congress will be updated again within 90 days on efforts to improve the collection of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) sightings. To encourage military personnel to report, there’s been a rebranding. UFOs are now UAPs. There’s also a plan to improve technology for reporting. “The initial focus will be to employ artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms to cluster and recognize similarities and patterns,” the report says, in order to “classify phenomena”. Although a senior official at the press briefing this week pointed out that determining the craft as extraterrestrial in origin is under the remit of NASA.
  • Data leak at major hosting provider. Website Planet reports the discovery of a non-password protected database with nearly a billion records, including a trove of WordPress usernames, emails, and other data dating from March 2018 to April 2021. Much of the database involved accounts at the hosting provider DreamHost. According to Website Planet’s report, DreamHost immediately secured the database and launched an investigation.

    It goes without saying that if you have any accounts with DreamHost, you should immediately change your account passwords as well as those on any WordPress installations hosted with the company. 
  • Google Drive and YouTube security updates may break old links. As part of a security update, Google will be changing the URLs to Google Drive files in September. According to Engadget,  you, or your organization, uses Google Docs to store and share files, you have until July 23rd to decide whether or not to apply this update. With the update, URLs will be more secure, but public links out in the wild will no longer work.

    Similarly, unlisted YouTube videos will become private and previous URLs to those videos will likewise cease to work beginning on July 23 unless users choose to opt-out.

Tip of the week

In our interconnected world, computer viruses and malware spread as fast as an organic virus.

Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for new ways to exploit computers to steal data. They can access bank accounts, perpetuate identity theft, shut down critical systems, gain access to corporate computers, and yes, even use your computer as a cog in their crypto currency mining operations, as we see in this week’s news.

Make sure you have antivirus/anti-malware software installed on your computers—yes, even if you use a Mac. It only takes a few minutes to purchase and install antivirus software, and it runs silently in the background and will protect your computer against a variety of threats.

If it’s been a while since you’ve installed antivirus software, or you’ve recently purchased a new machine, take a few minutes to review your options. PC Magazine, CNET, and TechRadar have reviews of current antivirus software available for PCs and Macs, with analysis of pros and cons and pricing tiers. 
And if you already have antivirus running on your system, take a moment to make sure your version is up-to-date. 

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Jackie Dana avatar

Jackie Dana

Jackie has been writing since childhood. As the Namecheap blog’s content manager and regular contributor, she loves bringing helpful information about technology and business to our customers. In her free time, she enjoys drinking copious amounts of black tea, writing novels, and wrangling a gang of four-legged miscreants. More articles written by Jackie.

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