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Mysterious malware stole data from 3.25 million Windows computers

A woman rushes through Microsoft headquarters.

Photo: Robert Giroux (Getty Images)

Between 2018 and 2020, a mysterious strain of malware infected and stole sensitive data from around 3.25 million Windows computers, taking with it a horrific amount of intimate information about the users of those devices.

The data includes login credentials (usernames and passwords) for dozens of online platforms, as well as billions of browser cookies, millions of user files stolen directly from infected desktops and, in in some cases, user photos of the device taken with the computer. own webcam.

The malicious outbreak was discovered recently when a large database of stolen information was spotted on the dark web, reports NordLocker in a new analysis of the incident.

The company characterizes the virus as Trojan horse-type malware that has been deployed to computers through email and illegal software, such as pirated versions of games and Adobe Photoshop, as well as “cracking” tools. Windows ”. The malware was unnamed and probably a cheap, customizable variant that could be easily purchased on the dark web.

“No name or custom Trojans like this are widely available online for as little as $ 100. Their low profile often helps these viruses go undetected and their creators go unpunished, ”the analysts write.

According to Nord, the malware took painstaking measures to catalog the people it compromised, even assigning “unique device identifiers to the stolen data, so that it could be sorted by source device” and also frequently photographing the data. computer user if their device had a webcam. .

As for the stolen data, it’s pretty overwhelming. The compromised login details include 1,471,416 Facebook credentials; 261,773 Twitter identifiers; 145,436 PayPal identifiers; 87,282 Dropbox identifiers; 1,540,650 Google account credentials, etc. Other compromised accounts include Coinbase, Blockchain, Outlook, Skype, Netflix … you see the picture.

On top of that, the malware also apparently took screenshots of the desktops it had infected, which retroactively helped researchers determine how much information had been compromised. To get a better idea of ​​the extent of the damage, here’s a little breakdown:

  • 2 billion cookies
  • 26 million login details
  • 6.6. million files (apparently stolen from desktops)
  • Over one million images (696,000 .png files and 224,000 .jpg files)
  • Over 650,000 Word documents and .pdf files

So, yes, this is all quite disturbing. The market for personal information on the dark web, especially login credentials, has always been important, but it has seen a real rise during the last years. Hundreds of millions of passwords are compromised every year through cyber attacks and crimes, leaving victims at the mercy of money-hungry henchmen. While it’s up to you to decide how to protect yourself, there are plenty of resources and, it goes without saying, they are worth the detour.

You can see a more detailed breakdown of all stolen files here.

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