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Security & privacy

Cybercriminals have a new way to scam you: Stealing and selling your internet bandwidth

There is a saying that no good deed goes unpunished. That has especially been true for good internet samaritans, who share a portion of their internet with others through special software. It’s called proxyware, and companies offer this as a service.

It hasn’t been around for a long time but has certainly grown in popularity. As with anything online and given away freely, criminals will try to exploit it. Since it is a seemingly endless resource, cybercriminals are now using it to monetize their malware. Tap or click here for a recent example of a tricky malware variant.

If you have noticed some weird things with your internet or it’s running slower than normal, here is what you can do.

Here’s the backstory

In a recent Cisco Talos report, the problem has been exposed in detail. Through software like Honeygain or Nanowire, criminals use proxyware to launch malware attacks on others. The malware can’t be traced back to associated IP addresses, making it a lucrative venture.

This naturally poses a huge risk for residential internet customers, affecting reliability and connection speed. And that’s not even mentioning other dangers the malware presents. The same tactics can also be used to target the internet of data center-sharing companies.

So how is this done? Well, cybercriminals use a clever trick to siphon off your connection. Once inside the network, criminals will bundle legitimate proxyware software with digital currency miners and information stealers. In most cases, the victims won’t even know the malware is on their machine and making money for criminals.

It’s the classic bait-and-switch method where malware is combined with legit software to infect the victim’s machine. It was found that some installer packages contained multiple proxyware software infected with malware.

What you can do about it

The first step to protecting yourself is ensuring that your computer’s antivirus software and operating system are up to date. If you are a user of proxyware or share your internet with such a company, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do on your own.

Cisco explains that the onus should fall onto companies that offer these services, and they need to be more aware of what is happening on their networks. “Organizations should be aware of these applications, how they work, and how they are being taken advantage of, as they may pose a significant risk to corporate environments,” the report said.

There are also indications that cybercriminals can use the networks to hide the source of the attacks. To a systems administrator, it will seem like legitimate traffic coming from within the internet-sharing company.

This will also make it difficult for security analysts to pinpoint the origin of the attacks, making conventional countermeasures ineffective.

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