Windows 10 is still the most popular operating system, remaining well ahead of the Windows 11 in Statcounter‘s usage statistics. But since Microsoft no longer sells Windows 10, some PC users turn to illegal downloads and torrents instead. Hackers are now exploiting Windows 10’s popularity for a new attack.
Bleeping Computer warns that Windows 10 ISO files are being offered for free download on various torrents/file-sharing platforms, but those files are contaminated with malware such as Trojan.Clipper.231. This malware is a dangerous variant of a “cryptocurrency hijacker.” Malware like this hides within computers, tablets, smartphones and even servers, then secretly carries out crypto-mining for the hacker’s benefit.
Unlike other malware, most cryptocurrency hijackers do not directly harm you or your computer: they do not delete any data, do not encrypt anything, and do not steal anything. But they do steal computing power for mining, thus also causing higher power consumption.
That’s already bad. This cryptocurrency hijacker malware, however, is even worse.
Actually hijacking your cryptocurrency
According to Bleeping Computer, this malware hides your PC BIOS’s small EFI partition, which contains the boot loader for your operating system. Lurking in this partition, outside the actual operating system, the malware tries to escape virus scanners.
The malware can cause considerable damage on infected computers because unlike “normal” cryptocurrency hijackers, it’s a “crypto stealer” that tries to sniff out cryptocurrency wallet addresses from your clipboard. If it finds crypto wallet addresses, it replaces them with hostile addresses that are under the control of the attacker. This allows the hackers to redirect your cryptocurrency to their accounts, which, according to Dr. Web, has already earned them at least $19,000 USD worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum.
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it again: Be sure to buy Windows 10 from secure sources and do not download pirated copies of Windows 10. Our explainer on how to get Windows for cheap (or even free) can point you in the right direction and keep you far away from malware lurking in sketchy ISOs.
This article was translated from German to English, and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.