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ChromeLoader: Microsoft, VMware Warns of the New Malware Campaigns


Microsoft and VMware are warning about the ongoing widespread malware campaign of ChromeLoader, which led to an “ongoing wide-ranging click frauds” later this year. 

The malware tool named ChromeLoader is apparently hijacking the browsers to redirect users to ad pages. The software has now evolved into a potential threat by deploying more potent payloads that go beyond malvertising. Variants of ChromeLoader have been dropping malicious browser extensions, node WebKit malware, and even ransomware on Windows PCs and Macs. 

Functioning of ChromeLoader 

Microsoft detected an ongoing widespread campaign of click frauds and attributed it to a threat actor DEV-0796. The malware attack begins with an ISO file that is downloaded when the user clicks a malicious ad, browser redirects, or Youtube comment. The attackers seek to profit from clicks generated by malicious browser extensions or node-WebKit that they have installed on the victim’s device, without being detected.  

The researchers from VMware’s Carbon Black Managed Detection and Response (MDR) team said they have seen the malware’s operators impersonating various legitimate services that would lead users to ChromeLoader. The researchers observed hundreds of attacks that included variants of the malware, targeting multiples sectors such as education, government, healthcare, and enterprises in business services. 

“This campaign has gone through many changes over the past few months, and we don’t expect it to stop […] It is imperative that these industries take note of the prevalence of this threat and prepare to respond to it” warns the researchers. 

Rapid Evolution Of Malware

Earlier, the malware infected Chrome with a malicious extension that redirected the user traffic to advertising sites performing click frauds and generating income for the threat actors. “But, it later evolved into an ‘info-stealer’, stealing sensitive data stored in browsers and deploying zip bombs (i.e. malicious archive files) to crash systems, while still retaining its adware function,” said researchers, in an advisory released on September 19. 

Since Adware does not cause any significant damage to a victim’s software, the threat is not taken seriously by analysts. However, any software, such as ChromeLoader, that could enter a system undetected, is an immediate threat to a user, as the victim may as well apply modifications, facilitating monetization options for the malware. 

“The Carbon Black MDR team believes that this is an emerging threat that needs to be tracked and taken seriously […] due to its potential for delivering more nefarious malware,” VMware said in the advisory. 

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