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Hackers Are Turning James Webb Telescope Images Into Malware

A cyber crime lab filled with computers
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The first image from the James Webb Telescope may bring more than pictures of far-off galaxies to your computer. Securonix, a security analytics firm, released an advisory this week highlighting a new malware campaign that incorporates the first image from the space telescope. The company dubbed the campaign “GO#WEBBFUSCATOR.”

However, you probably don’t have much to worry about if you see the famous image coming across your screen. That’s because you’re not meant to see it. The malware attack targets users through an email phishing campaign with a Microsoft Office attachment. Once on your machine, the virus downloads a copy of the first image captured by the James Webb Telescope, and within its metadata lies the malicious code that could potentially harm your computer. According to Securonix, all anti-virus programs failed to detect the malicious code.

Securonix’s vice president, Augusto Barros, told Popular Science that hackers likely employed the Webb Telescope because users would dismiss the image as harmless since they’ve seen it so often since its release.

“If it is flagged for review by an anti-malware solution, the reviewer may overlook it as it’s been an image shared through multiple channels lately.”

First image from James Webb telescope showing distant galaxies.
NASA

Engadget notes that GO#WEBBFUSCATOR is written in Golang, Google’s open-source programming language. Malware employing Gloang is rising due to its cross-platform support and difficulty finding and examining malware written in that language.

Source: Engadget and Popular Science

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Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »