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Here's one good reason why you should never use pirated software

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Researchers from the IT security firm ESET have discovered a new cross-platform cryptocurrency miner called LoudMiner that comes bundled alongside pirated software.

Through the use of virtualization software, Quick Emulator (QEMU) on macOS and VirtualBox on Windows, LoudMiner is able to mine cryptocurrency on a Tiny Core Linux virtual machine.

Users' devices can become infected with the cryptocurrency miner by downloading pirated copies of a type of audio software plugin interface called Virtual Studio Technology (VST). Once infected, LoudMiner then uses the compromised machines to mine cryptocurrency and the miner even has the ability to self-update through the use of Secure File Copy (SCP) with an embedded username and private SSH key.

LoudMiner

Senior malware researcher at ESET, Marc-Etienne M. Léveillé explained why LoudMiner targets systems running audio software, saying:

“LoudMiner targets audio applications, given the machines running these applications often have a higher processing power. These applications are typically complex and have a high CPU consumption, so users will not find this activity unusual. Using virtual machines instead of another leaner solution is quite remarkable, and is not something we have typically seen before.”

ESET has observed that LoudMiner has been in use since August 2018 and the firm recommends that users avoid downloading pirated copies of commercial software to protect themselves.

ESET also recommends that users should beware of popups from unexpected “additional” installers, higher CPU consumption, as well as new services and connections from curious domain names.

For more details on LoudMiner, you can read ESET's LoudMiner: Cross-platform mining in cracked VST software (opens in new tab) report.

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.