Security analysts report on a resurgence in ChromeLoader activity. A browser hijacker dubbed ChromeLoader has been causing trouble since January 2022, affecting Windows and macOS users, Safari web browsers included. The malware operators spread it via ISO files claiming to offer pirated software, usually games. What the user actually gets is a stealthy browser extension. Once the browser is compromised, the results the user gets from search engines are not to be trusted. From now on, the victim is susceptible to undesirable marketing schemes, such as bogus “sure-fire lotteries”, software and dating platforms’ promotion campaigns, and adult content.
The adversaries behind ChromeLoader activity profit from a system of marketing affiliation, redirecting their target’s traffic to the websites that offer unsolicited content mentioned above.
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The outset of the ChromeLoader malware distribution was detected in January 2022. Red Canary and G-Data have been researching the issue, sharing their valuable insights. Interestingly, G-Data analysts opted to refer to this malware piece as a Choziosi loader. According to their findings, ChromeLoader is distributed via a malvertising campaign run on social media platforms. Usually mimicking a game, movie, or program that was cracked and is now available for free, threat actors spread a weaponized ISO archive file. On Twitter, for example, adversaries spread memes with scannable QR codes that lead to a ChromeLoader-hosting site.
Once the user double clicks on the downloaded malicious ISO file, the pandora box is open. The executable the victim gets utilizes a PowerShell command to fetch a Chrome extension that later leeches off the browser undetected. The victim also gets a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler that is responsible for maintaining malware persistence in the compromised environment. ChromeLoader is a browser hijacker that is designed to tweak browser settings, so the victim’s browser search queries to Google, Yahoo, and Bing are altered. Search engines now redirect traffic to unsolicited advertising sites.
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