LEGO-STYLE SIMULATOR Minecraft has been infiltrated by malware that lurks in downloadable 'skins' for player avatars and can wreak havoc by reformatting hard drives.
The Minecraft malware was uncovered by security firm Avast, which reckons around 50,000 machines have been infected globally.
Through the use of a malicious Powershell script, infected Minecraft skins were created and distributed in the PNG file format. Once downloaded into a victim's Minecraft game the malware reformats a machine's hard drives, delete its backups and system programs.
Users of infected machines may receive rather childish and fun-poking messages in their Minecraft account inbox. "You Are Nailed, Buy A New Computer This Is A Piece Of Sh*t"; "You have maxed your internet usage for a lifetime"; "Your a** got glued"; were cited examples, which would suggest the malware was designed as a form of trolling rather than a criminally-motivated cyber attack.
While this malware might seem pretty nasty, Alexej Savcin, malware analyst at Avast, noted it wasn't exactly a cutting-edge or sophisticated cyber attack
"The malicious code is largely unimpressive and can be found on sites that provide step-by-step instructions on how to create viruses with Notepad," Savcin said.
"While it is fair to assume that those responsible are not professional cybercriminals, the bigger concern is why the infected skins could be legitimately uploaded to the Minecraft website. With the malware hosted on the official Minecraft domain, any detection triggered could be misinterpreted by users as a false positive."
Savcin noted that Avast alerted Minecraft creators Mojang to the malware and that the developer was working on fixing the vulnerability.
A Microsft spokesperson then told The INQUIRER that the security problem had been fixes: "We have addressed this issue and put additional measures in place to protect our community. We encourage players to report any suspicious activity to feedback.minecraft.net."
The vast popularity of Minecraft, which Microsoft helped build out when it bought Mojang for a cool $2.5bn, means it has 74 million players, many of whom are children, making it a tasty target for hackers looking to cause some cyber trolling.
Antivirus software can help defend against such malware, but the scope of Minecraft means that once an infection takes hold it has the potential to escalate globally. Makes us a bit sad really, given how Minecraft is an inherently peaceful and creative game. µ
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