Malware tends to be at its most effective when it exists in secret. Under the radar. This is what allows malicious code to burrow deep into an infected system and capture a wide range of data. It's what allows cryptojacking software to quietly siphon off computer power to mine for various forms of cryptocurrency. That makes money for the malicious code's owners. Secrecy is typically seen as a very big deal.

Then there's the malware called Faketoken, which has recently been upgraded with enhanced capabilities that throws all that out the window. The latest version of the malware adds insult to injury by sending out offensive, expensive, or overseas text messages after milking as much money out of an infected system as it can. It's such a departure from hacking norms that it caught researchers at Kaspersky Lab by surprise when they saw it.

Researchers have been tracking Faketoken's ongoing development since it first made the "Top 20 Most Dangerous Banking Trojans" list in 2014.

Since that time, the code's owners have added a raft of capabilities to the malware, including:

  • The ability to steal funds directly, rather than relying on other Trojans bundled with it to do the heavy lifting
  • Using phishing login screens and overlaid windows designed to dupe mobile users into entering their account credentials, handing them straight to the hackers
  • The ability to act as ransomware, encrypting files and demanding payment

Sending out offensive texts is an oddly amusing addition to malicious code like this. However, there may be a method to the apparent madness of the people behind the code. It is, after all, a fantastic way to advertise the code's effectiveness.

Ultimately, the only people who know the true purpose behind this new functionality are the hackers themselves, but we may well be looking at the leading edge of a new trend in malware. Stay tuned.

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