Naive NFT fans spread malware en-masse in massive targeted attack

The Fake Apes Attack

by Lewis White
Bored Ape NFT on platoon

The crypto bubble’s mass expansion in 2021 resulted in a huge wave of NFT sales, ushering in a controversial industry of cryptoart. As is common knowledge by now, the cryptoart industry is a hot target for scams, plagiarism and fraud. However, particularly naive NFT fans are now helping to spread one of the industry’s most dangerous hacks.

Huge malware attack spread by naive NFT fans

Reported by anti-virus cybersecurity company MalwareBytes, huge malware campaigns are now becoming increasingly common in the world of NFTs. Targeting artists, a new malware campaign posing as NFT line “Cyberpunk Ape Executives” is causing unparalleled grief to the market.

Across art platforms like DeviantArt, ArtStation and Pixiv, NFT scammers posing as the NFT line are messaging artists to use their characters as NFTs. These messages include a link to an image library download that also hides a .EXE file.

“Artists expecting to find ape jpegs are in for a horrible surprise,” MalwareBytes says. “Not least because it does in fact contain several ape jpegs. It also contains something else pretending to be an ape jpeg.”

Upon opening the image — Cyberpunk Ape Executives #19 — the naive NFT fans end to activating a piece of spyware called “PasswordStealer.EnigmaProtector”. As soon as this is accessed, a user’s socials account immediately starts spreading the same message to other users.

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The Real Ape Executives respond

Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire scam is that the Cyberpunk Ape Executives is a real NFT line. However, while they do rely on naive NFT fans to buy into their cryptoart, it’s not the game group as those behind the malware attacks.

In a post on Twitter, the Cyberpunk Ape Executives warned about the ongoing scam. They said: “There’s currently a scam going around with people pretending to work with us. This is not real. Don’t respond. Don’t click the link. Report the people who are doing this on the platform they contact you on.”

The spread of another far-reaching NFT scam is far from surprising. With two of the biggest NFT marketplaces already complaining about the massive amount of scams present in the industry, this just par for the course.

Lewis White