Malware targeting PC gamers disappears, but re-emergence expected soon

Security firm Sophos has published a detailed threat research on Baldr, an information-stealer that first appeared January 2019.

The report provides a deep dive on the popularity of the malware and its unique killchain characteristics. The in-depth research also reveals Baldr’s inner workings, including cybercriminal behaviors and missteps on both the selling and buying side that potentially led to its sudden disappearance from the deep Web in June.

According to SophosLabs, the people who developed Baldr made it to sell to entry-level cybercriminals on the deep Web and they, in turn, targeted PC gamers as the first set victims.

Baldr has since gone way beyond infecting gamers and attacks have spread to encompass all computer users.

Baldr, like many types of malware, uses code fragments borrowed from other malware families. However, Baldr goes to further extremes and consists of copied code from a large number of other malware, making it more like a “Frankenstein’s monster of code snippets.”

One reason computer users should be aware of Baldr is because it can quickly ransack a wide range of information from its victims, including saved passwords, cached data, configuration files, cookies and other files, from a wide variety of applications.

SophosLabs has tracked infections worldwide, including in these countries:

  • Indonesia (more than 21% of the victim population)
  • United States (10.52%)
  • Brazil (14.14%)
  • Russia (13.68%)
  • India (8.77%)

Baldr disappeared from sale in June, apparently following an argument between the creator and the distributor. SophosLabs expects it to re-emerge in time, perhaps with a different name.

“Whether Baldr was a flash-in-the-pan that quickly peaked and then fell victim to a squabble among cyberthieves or will return as a long-term threat, remains to be seen,” said Albert Zsigovits, a SophosLabs threat researcher in Hungary.

“However, its very existence is a good reminder that even stolen bits of malware code stitched together to create a ‘Frankenstein-like malware monster’ can be incredibly effective at bursting in, grabbing everything and rushing out again. The only way to stop such threats is with basic, but essential security practices that include using up-to-date security software.”

Gamers typically utilize much more powerful systems and are more willing to install custom tools, utilities, and applications from a wide variety of sources, all of which make them ideal targets for malware authors.

Furthermore, utilities that enable “cheats” often use common malware techniques such as DLL injection, or modifying or injecting code into memory. This not only can lead to system instability, but also ruins the game experience for everyone involved.

“Even though Baldr is currently off the deep market, it can still be used by cybercriminals who had previously purchased it, and is still a potential threat. In general, PC gamers and all computer users should be wary of malware and take steps to protect their systems with security software like Sophos Home, which scans gaming software and cheats,” said Zsigovits.

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