grammys, music, malware, cyber, cyber security

Malware Camouflaged as Today’s Music Favorites

Cyber criminals use popular music artists and their song titles to disguise malware files

The Grammy Awards were just last Sunday, and you can bet that hackers have found a way to capitalize on this popular event. According to Kaspersky protection technologies, there was a 39% rise in attacks (attempts to download or run malware) that were camouflaged as downloadable songs by some of this year’s most popular artists. Kaspersky reports that the artists whose work was used most often for this purpose are Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Post Malone.

Artists and singles analyzed for malware

Researchers write that they found over 30,900 malware files disguised in this way, and that over 41,000 Kaspersky product users have come across them in the wild. This trend is demonstrated in a study of the new sensation Billie Eilish. Eilish saw a rise in popularity in 2019, and soon after the amount of users who downloaded malware disguised as her work rose from 254 to 2,171 just between 2018 and 2019.

Unique malicious files using selected Grammy nominees' names detected by Kaspersky products
Unique malicious files using selected Grammy nominees’ names detected by Kaspersky products – source

To keep from accidentally downloading musical malware, Kaspersky recommends the following:

  • Use streaming services to listen to music such as Apple Music, Google Music, Spotify Premium, or Amazon Music
  • Avoid suspicious links promising exclusive music content. Check musicians’ social media or read popular music blogs to verify authenticity before downloading.
  • Look at the file extension; if legitimate, the file should have an .mp3, .avi, .mkv, or .mp4 extension – never an .exe or .lnk
  • Employ a reliable security solution in case something like this does slip by – and it most likely will.

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BlackPoint Cyber