Alert: Memes could have malware and take control of the device

Memes could be used to infect cell phones and computers (Photos: Twitter)

The memes they are a form of expression that became a worldwide trend. Whether it’s for a serious event like the earthquakes in Mexico, the premiere of a movie like in the case of Spider-Man and Batman, or practically anything else, these they flood social networks, however, some of them could be contaminated with malware.

Malware are malicious codes, also known as viruses or Trojans, that are installed on the victim’s device to perform harmful actions on the computer system, some of its most common practices are steal information and delete files.

Because they can be extremely dangerous to users who innocently browse the Internet and open a meme, the vulnerability needs to be disclosed, which, according to ESETwas detected since 2017.

The cybersecurity company points out that in that year, a group of researchers found a malware spread from a Twitter account, whose malicious instructions were hidden in code posing as a memethat is, a Trojan.

malware memes
(Photo: ESET)

But it was not just any Trojan, it was a remote access Trojan (RAT) that tried to control the computer it infected. Through downloading the file, it could silently infect a computer, taking screenshots or extracting other data of the affected system, which it sends to a specific address.

As they explain, it is a technique known as steganography, which hides messages that are sent without the affected user realizing what is happening.

“The meme tried to be transmitted through the steganographya message encryption technique dating back thousands of years that allows messages to be sent camouflaged inside an object or containerso that they go unnoticed.

It should be noted that steganography is not malicious in itself, as it is used to send secret messages and avoid censorship, however, cybercriminals have seen it as an opportunity to distribute malware through it.

malware memes
(Photo: ESET)

That’s how it was implanted in a Tweet that it seemed like a harmless memeso that users were infected without realizing it, since the malware was hidden.

“It was never clear where the malware came from, how it initially infected its victims or who was behind itwhat was known was that whoever downloaded that meme to forward it, publish it or save it, was in danger.”

As security researchers soon became aware of this attack, it was quickly exposed, causing the guilty account to be closed. Even so, it is unknown what the scope or consequences of such malicious software may be and when another similar attack will be repeated.

A person uses a laptop, in a file photograph.  EFE/Sascha Steinbach
A person uses a laptop, in a file photograph. EFE/Sascha Steinbach (SASCHA STEINBACH SASCHA STEINBACH/)

The specialists of ESET, point out that it could have beena pilot test to develop new and different types of malware that we are surely seeing now or in the future”.

How to protect yourself

Taking into account that the Malware and Trojans can only access computers if you give them permissionthe recommendations are:

– Never open an email attachment or run a program if you are not sure the source is 100% trustworthy.

– Keep applications and software always updated to avoid vulnerabilities.

– Install a reliable antimalware solution to maximize your protection levels.


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