Fake Software Update Attack

Attackers create RATs (Remote Access Trojans), disguising them as software updates for devices' operating systems to mislead users into installing them on their own devices. For example, attackers have named a file containing ransomware as a Windows 11 operating system update to deceive users into installing it on their personal computers. Once this malware is executed on the user's device, it begins to silently take control of the device, accessing and stealing data.

Next, the attackers may threaten to extort money from users in exchange for their data or use the stolen data for other purposes.

Fake Software Update Attack

Intrusion Methods of Fake Software Update Programs

Fake software update programs infiltrate users' devices in various ways, the most common being through pop-up windows that appear when users visit a website. These pop-ups, designed to mimic genuine software or operating system update notifications, confuse users into clicking on them and installing the fake updates. Once installed, the malware within the fake update files begins its phased attack, stealing data.

Additionally, attackers create fake emails pretending to be from software companies, informing users of the need to update to the latest software version. They provide links to download the fake updates, tricking users into clicking and installing them.

Moreover, operating system updates are also faked and inserted into app stores on phones. For instance, in some cases, Android operating system apps have been named like an operating system update and placed in app stores to confuse users into downloading and installing them on their phones.

Risks from Fake Software Update Programs

The intrusion of malware through fake software update programs poses significant risks to both devices and users.

Firstly, such programs, when running covertly on a device, can negatively impact the system. A hidden program constantly operating on the machine, especially in cases where attackers use RATs for cryptocurrency mining, can degrade device performance and speed, potentially causing operational issues.

Furthermore, these covertly running programs can damage or malfunction devices if undetected over a long period.

Secondly, fake software update programs not only steal data but also pose other risks to users. Most attackers set up ransomware under the guise of a software update to easily deceive users into installation. Subsequently, this malware steals all data and forces users to pay, often in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, to retrieve it.

In some instances, when user data, especially personal data, is stolen, it can be inadvertently or deliberately leaked by attackers. This data can become a tool for cybercriminals to engage in illegal activities.

Preventing Fake Software Update Programs

To avoid the unpredictable dangers of fake software update programs, users need to take effective preventive measures:

  1. Limit Visits to Unfamiliar Websites, Avoid Downloading Unknown Programs

    • Most unfamiliar websites feature pop-up windows that may contain links to download programs disguised as software update reminders. Users should select reputable and secure websites for information.
    • If a user accidentally clicks a pop-up and notices an update notification, they should not download the program. If a program automatically downloads, users should quickly stop the download or delete the program from their device to prevent data breaches.
  2. Be Cautious with Emails

    • Although using emails to notify about software updates is less common among attackers, they still create fake emails impersonating software companies to deceive gullible users.
    • Users should verify the authenticity of such emails by visiting the official website of the software company to check the contact information or follow the company's advisories against fraud.
    • Most software companies now send update notifications directly through the app or device. Therefore, users should be aware to avoid being deceived by fake emails. Users can also double-check by visiting the settings menu of their device or the app in case they receive an email notification about a necessary software or operating system update.
  3. Use Protective Software for Devices

    • Popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari are equipped with security features for safe browsing. Users should use these features to protect their devices when accessing websites. Additionally, enabling a firewall on operating systems like Windows or macOS can help block harmful websites when using personal computers.
    • Users should also install antivirus software and anti-malware programs to detect and eliminate suspicious files, adding an extra layer of protection for their devices.
  4. Backup and Rational Data Storage

    • The best way to prevent data loss or ransomware attacks is to create backup copies of important data. Along with storing documents on the device, users should make multiple copies and store them on physical storage devices like USB drives, memory cards, or external hard drives, or use cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, or Mediafire to prepare for worst-case scenarios.