A new piece of malware spread through Skype is affecting thousands of computers around the world, including in Costa Rica, Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab reported on Friday.
The firm said the malware is getting nearly 2,000 clicks per hour, and the majority of victims live in Russia, Poland, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany and Ukraine. Experts warn that if a computer seems to be using a lot of CPU resources, you should check to make sure you’re not infected.
The initial dropper is downloaded when clicking a link on a Skype message saying something like, “I can’t believe this picture of you!” Spanish-speaking users get messages like “Esta es mi foto favorita de ustedes!” (This is my favorite picture of you). When users click the link, the malware downloads and starts using up the CPU and other computer resources.
Once the machine is infected, the malware drops many other pieces of malware to the system in order to gain access for hackers.
The object of the malware is to get “mining Bitcoins,” a decentralized digital currency used to pay for transactions through the Internet. Bitcoins can be exchanged through a computer or smartphone locally or internationally without an intermediate financial institution.
The malware is set up to connect a number of PCs to solve “block” transactions, or a number of encrypted Bitcoin transactions. When that block is solved, the transactions are processed and the solver gets a certain number of Bitcoins as a prize. Hackers are using the malware to get a group of computers together, automating the process and earning more Bitcoins faster and free.
Kaspersky Lab said the malware mostly infects PCs, though a few attacks have been reported on Mac computers.