If you use Facebook Messenger, hate malware, and always click on links you’re sent without a second thought, then you’re going to want to exercise more caution moving forward. A new strain of malware has been making the rounds since March, and depending on how you view things, the effect of “Nigelthorn” is somewhat smashing!
This latest malware is named after the Nigel Thornberry character in the popular The Wild Thornberrys cartoon, and while it might seem like an odd choice, it was done because the malware works by exploiting the ‘Nigelify’ browser extension that changes pictures into an image of the character. Other extensions are affected as well, but not with the same reach as Nigelify.
Up to seven extensions have had this malware bundled in, but Google’s systems managed to detect 4 of the 7 before they could cause much harm. Even so, the fact that others go through highlight yet again just how easy it is to defeat Google’s security systems. Every time the company patches up some loophole, malware creators move onto the next.
On the topic of Google, it should be stressed that this bug will only affect Chrome. However, just because that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you should treat your security lackadaisically. There could very well be other malware floating around Facebook just the same that has yet to be discovered. If someone sends you a link you don’t recognize – even if it’s coming from a friend – it should be treated with some level of scrutiny.
Will the real Nigelify please stand up?
Nigelthorn ultimately compromises a person’s Facebook account by reading as much detail as it can, in order to spread the malware-laden URL to the person’s friends automatically. After some magic is worked by the malware, the victim PC will have cryptocurrency mining software installed, to digitally dig for the popular anonymized Monero cryptocurrency. In six days, the malware was able to generate about $1,000 from its total mining output, but that’d be much higher if more than 100,000 manage to become infected by it.
It’s not entirely clear how to clean out the malware once you’ve become infected, but it’s assumed that every anti-malware application worth its weight in megabytes will add appropriate definitions, if they haven’t already. If your computer has been acting clunky ever since you clicked a link – it’s time to update and run a scan.