Although ChromeLoader may appear to be a run-of-the-mill browser hijacker that merely reroutes users to advertising sites, its use of PowerShell might represent a greater danger by allowing for further and more sophisticated malicious activity such as the spread of ransomware or spyware or browser-session data theft.
What is ChromeLoader?
ChromeLoader is a browser hijacker that was first discovered in early 2017. It targets Google Chrome users and reroutes them to advertising sites. However, what sets ChromeLoader apart from other browser hijackers is its use of PowerShell, which allows it to download and execute additional malicious payloads.
How Does ChromeLoader Work?
ChromeLoader hijacks the user’s browser by changing the homepage and default search engine settings. It then redirects the user to advertising sites whenever they try to access a website or perform a search.
In addition, ChromeLoader uses PowerShell to download and execute additional malicious payloads. This gives it the ability to install other malicious software on the victim’s machine, such as ransomware or spyware.
The Infection Process
Researchers discovered that ChromeLoader lurks inside fraudulent files promoted on Twitter and other services, or found on rogue and torrent sites offering pirated video games and other media for free download. Some social media posts advertise supposedly cracked Android games via QR codes that direct would-be gamers to unlawful websites.
Double clicking the ISO file mounts it as a virtual CD-ROM, with the ISO’s executable claiming to be the content that the victim originally was looking for. Within this ISO, there’s a program to install ChromeLoader, as well as what appears to be a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler. Later in the intrusion chain, this is how ChromeLoader persists on the victim’s computer.
ChromeLoader activates a PowerShell command to load in a Chrome extension from a remote location after installation. After that, the victim’s browser is compromised, and they have no notion that anything has happened.
The malicious browser extension is then loaded and unzipped within the private/var/tmp directory using Chrome’s installation script, which is run by the end user.
What are the Dangers of ChromeLoader?
The danger of ChromeLoader lies in its use of PowerShell, which allows it to download and execute additional malicious payloads. This gives it the ability to install other malicious software on the victim’s machine, such as ransomware or spyware.
ChromeLoader is also dangerous because it targets Google Chrome users. Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the world, so there is a large pool of potential victims.
How Can I Protect Myself from ChromeLoader?
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from ChromeLoader and other browser hijackers.
First, you should make sure that your browser is up to date. Browser hijackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated browsers.
You should also install a reputable security program and keep it up to date. This will help protect your computer from all types of malware, including browser hijackers.
Finally, you should be careful about the websites you visit and the links you click. Browser hijackers often spread through malicious ads or infected websites. If you suspect that a website is infected, do not visit it. And if you see an ad that looks suspicious, do not click on it.