Saturday, March 2, 2024

A Bard’s Story – how pretend AI bots attempt to set up malware


The AI race is on! It’s simple to lose monitor of the newest developments and prospects, and but everybody needs to see firsthand what the hype is about. Heydays for cybercriminals!

A Bard’s Tale – how fake AI bots try to install malware

My first “huh?” second was that the shortened URL didn’t embrace any Google reference however quite a hyperlink to – a service with no apparent ties to Google and with places of work in Dublin, Eire. It appeared odd for an web big to be utilizing the companies of one other supplier and my suspicion was triggered. I then re-read the textual content of the commercial and though I’m not a local English speaker, I discovered it exhausting to consider that nobody appeared to have proofread that quite complicated content material. 

Pretend advert as proven on Fb 

Did you say “Bots”? 

I then proceeded to test the feedback part beneath the advert in pursuit of hints in the direction of attainable fraud, however to my (little) shock, all of them appeared to like “the app”. Referring to only “the app” appeared quite basic, whereas others praised the “AI”, by no means mentioning Google in any respect. Some have been giving “a 5 Star ranking” (sic) – in a remark part?! In some way, miraculously, it appeared like everybody within the feedback had downloaded and examined the app on the identical time, solely to be writing their feedback at precisely the identical second – which in my case was “6 hours in the past” – solely including as much as my suspicions. 

All feedback written on the identical time? 

Following the path 

I selected to fireside up my protected surroundings to analyze just a little additional. First, I checked the rebrandly-Hyperlink at VirusTotal, which was flagged as malicious by 3/90 distributors. It is a first indicator, however no proof in any respect, as this will likely even be a false optimistic. 

So I went for it and opened the hyperlink in an nameless browser window – which turned out to be an ideal concept because the hyperlink led to an precise Google web site – hxxps://  

Had I been accessing the positioning whereas logged-in to my browser, particularly with my Google account in Chrome, the criminals would have doubtlessly gained way more details about me than I’d needed! 

Whereas the positioning is hosted at Google’s cloud infrastructure, the content material is, in fact, not associated nor supplied by Google themselves. It additionally provides away just a few extra hints that one thing shady is about to occur, right here. First, let’s have a look at the web page title on the browser tab: “Trang chủ” (Vietnamese for “dwelling web page”). Moreover, it appears apparent, as soon as once more, that the textual content on the positioning hasn’t been created by a local or a proficient English speaker. This implies that the attackers behind this marketing campaign are based mostly in Vietnam, however in fact, not at all that is enough proof.

The “Obtain” button then results in hxxps:// – a private Google Drive area, making an attempt to create the phantasm the marketing campaign was an official providing by Google, although it merely was an inexpensive imply of distribution for the attackers. 

The obtain web page

There’s no intelligence, not even synthetic 

The file downloaded is a RAR archive – GoogleAIUpdata.rar. Scanning it or importing it to VirusTotal doesn’t result in something helpful as it’s “protected” with a password. One would possibly marvel why if it was a real obtain from Google, you say? Nicely, this password “safety” acts solely as a straightforward method for the attackers to get previous malware scanners – nothing else. When you open the archive (with out unpacking it!) with the password “789” as supplied on the obtain web page, you’ll see that the archive incorporates an installer within the MSI (Microsoft Software program Installer) format – Google Bard AI setup.msi. Fortunately, unarchiving instruments like 7-zip present the choice to create SHA-256 (and different) file hashes, which then will be looked for on VirusTotal, once more, with out the necessity to unpack a doubtlessly dangerous file. 

Trying up the file supplies the final proof that it is a malicious marketing campaign. 26/59 distributors flag the file as malicious, with ESET making a gift of just a little extra data within the detection identify. JS/ExtenBro.Agent.EK is a JavaScript agent which is able to attempt to alter your (browser) settings, stopping entry to sure safety vendor websites to eliminate it after an an infection, however principally it serves as Adware, displaying annoying and undesirable advertisements on mainly any web site you attempt to entry and promising the attackers cash with every advert displayed on a sufferer’s machine. 


On the time of writing the marketing campaign was nonetheless seen in numerous variations, however I reported it and can most actually not be the one one doing so. Sadly, plainly this could be an even bigger marketing campaign as I’ve now encountered different examples as “meta AI” or different pretend “Google AI” advertisements. In any case, this marketing campaign will be thought of a determined try to make a “fast buck” out of the present and ongoing AI hype, spreading ever so annoying Adware to make much more cash. Not at all this has been a complicated marketing campaign by any means. However the unhappy actuality is that individuals will fall for such scams within the hopes of getting their arms on the newest applied sciences. One other unhappy fact is that we won’t depend on tech giants reminiscent of Fb and Google to offer 100% clear and protected environments.  

I hope this weblog put up helps just a little in recognizing the percentages and hints and find out how to examine a possible rip-off or malware assault with out the necessity for costly instruments, proper from dwelling.

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