Cybercriminals are reportedly exploiting the death of former basketball star Kobe Bryant, by preying on the sentiments of unsuspecting victims looking to download images of the late sports legend. Microsoft’s security team recently found a malicious crypto-mining script embedded in the wallpaper of late Kobe Bryant.
Late Kobe Bryant’s Image Used to Hide Cryptojacking Malware
According to a tweet by Microsoft Security Intelligence on Friday, January 31, 2020, through Microsoft’s Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), the security team was able to detect a malicious HTML file masquerading as a wallpaper featuring Kobe Bryant. Part of the tweet reads:
“We found a malicious HTML file posing as a Kobe Bryant wallpaper that contains a coin mining script”.
The tragic death of former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, Kobe Bryant, on January 26, 2020, along with his daughter Gianna, and seven others, have seen a large outpouring of grief from fans and people worldwide.
However, bad actors have moved in to capitalize on the late star’s popularity by embedding a crypto mining script in a Bryant wallpaper. Aggrieved fans and admirers who wish to download an image of Kobe unknowingly become victims of cryptojacking.
This method used by hackers is known as steganography, in which a message, file, or image is concealed in another image, file, or video. Such images, files, or videos appear ordinary and harmless, but they contain malicious files that are installed on the victim’s computer.
In the case of Kobe Bryant’s wallpaper, anyone who downloads the image gives the hackers access to use the victim’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. The Microsoft security team, however, stated that they had blocked the website hosting the coin miner.
Cryptojacking on the Rise
Late Kobe Bryant is not the only celebrity whose image hackers have used to hide crypto-mining scripts. Per a report by BTCManager in December 2019, cybercriminals hid a mining botnet known as MyKingz botnet in the JPEG images of popular American singer, Taylor Swift.
Cases of cryptojacking have been on the rise, which hackers getting sophisticated and stealthy with their methods. Hackers use victims’ computers to mine crypto without the knowledge or consent of the victims.
In August 2019, cybercriminals infected RubyGems with cryptojacking malware, affecting five out of the eleven libraries. Also, a team of researchers from Varonis discovered a new cryptojacking malware that was used to hijack a victim’s system.