We’ve all seen kids throw tantrums in stores before. No matter how many times their parents shush them or threaten them with timeout, the kid is going to let the entire world know how badly they want that Nerf gun or doll. What if a kid wanted a toy so badly that instead of throwing a tantrum, they wised up and hid it inside the shopping cart? All it takes is the parent being on their phone at checkout or the kid could even distract them while the cashier is scanning it and they got it. As simple as that sounds, there is a banking hack that is spreading across the world at a rate that is too hard to estimate because the kids (hackers) are hiding their toys (malware) in the cart so well that no one can say how many banks are affected.

The usual malware attack begins when a file containing malware is downloaded or given permission to run on a device. From there a hacker could launch a ransomware attack, or simply sit and collect information like keystrokes and login credentials. In the latter case, hackers could be in a network as long as the file containing their malware isn’t found. That was the old days though, because as promised hackers have evolved their methods to work around current cybersecurity measures. Instead of tricking people to download their files, hackers are now hiding them in legitimate network management tools and then hiding the malware directly in the device’s memory instead of as a file. It’s just like a kid hiding a toy in a grocery cart, but these kids are stealing information from banks.

That’s the basics, here’s what we know so far about how the hacks actually work. Hackers hide their malware in tools like PowerShell and Metasploit. Powershell is a Microsoft management framework that allows administrators to access their devices and Metasploit is a penetration testing software, so people give these programs access to their devices without thinking about it. Once the malware is hidden in the computer’s memory it can go undetected indefinitely. That means hackers can harvest information that they can use to either steal money, shut down the network, or spread their reach within the network. While the effects of this new malware is still being discovered and reported, it’s believed that the hackers are using their access to bank networks to manipulate ATMs to give out extra money without the bank ever knowing about it.

File-less malware has been found in at least 140 bank networks in 40 different countries. The five most affected countries are the U.S., France, Ecuador, Kenya, and England, but the malware hides so well within device memory that that number is likely far below how many networks have been compromised. That’s the bad news, and here’s a kick in the pants to go with it. File-less malware is believed to have evolved from a Duquu, a group of malware that was created thanks to Stuxnet. That means that the origin for all of this lies in the United States.

We constantly warn you that hackers will find new ways to work around whatever stops them from stealing your privacy and money. While we didn’t expect to United States government to help them, it’s no surprise that they’ve found a new way to hide malware in a device. If you want to be protected from hackers, you now have to return the favor and find a way to work around their new methods. Cybersecurity is a never ending tug of war. Stay posted for more cybersecurity info so you can pull back.

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