Security experts have issued a warning to PC users in Thailand after a new strain of malware was discovered to have infected more than 3.5 million computers.
Cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks said hackers have surreptitiously installed software on at least 15 million computers worldwide, with the highest number of infected devices found in Thailand.
The malware steals the processing power of a user’s computer in order to mine the Monero cryptocurrency.
Researchers said that the campaign has be ongoing for the last 4 months and they predict that many more PCs are likely to infected.
“It’s important to note that the actual number of victims is likely much higher because less than half of the samples we identified in this campaign leverage bitly,” the firm said in a blog post.
“If we postulate that the bitly telemetry is typical for this operation, we can extrapolate to speculate that as many as 30 million people have been affected by this operation.”
In order to spread the malware, hackers have been hiding it in EXE files designed to look like file sharing downloads, which are given names such as File4org,” “RapidFiles” and “Dropmefiles.” The files are then shared online via links from URL shorteners such Bitly and Adfly.
Once the malware infects a device it secretly uses the processing power to mine the digital currency Monero, which is currently worth around $300 per coin.
The hackers will then get a percentage or fee from each coin mined.
The significant thing about the malware is that it has been designed to use less than 20 percent of a computer’s processing power, so some users may not notice their computer slow down.
Fortunately, most antivirus software can block the Monero cryptocurrency miners, so make sure you virus protection is kept up to date.