Threat actors have been increasingly observed using AI-generated YouTube Videos to spread a variety of stealer malware such as Raccoon, RedLine, and Vidar.
"The videos lure users by pretending to be tutorials on how to download cracked versions of software such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Autodesk 3ds Max, AutoCAD, and other products that are licensed products available only to paid users," CloudSEK researcher Pavan Karthick M said.
Just as the ransomware landscape comprises core developers and affiliates who are in charge of identifying potential targets and actually carrying out the attacks, the information stealer ecosystem also consists of threat actors known as traffers who are recruited to spread the malware using different methods.
One of the popular malware distribution channels is YouTube, with CloudSEK witnessing a 200-300% month-over-month increase in videos containing links to stealer malware in the description section since November 2022.
These links are often obfuscated using URL shorteners like Bitly and Cuttly, or alternatively hosted on MediaFire, Google Drive, Discord, GitHub, and Telegram's Telegra.ph.
In several instances, threat actors leverage data leaks and social engineering to hijack legitimate YouTube accounts and push malware, often targeting popular accounts to reach a large audience in a short span of time.
"Uploading to such accounts lends video legitimacy as well," Karthick explained. "However, such Youtubers will report their account taker to YouTube and gain access back to their accounts within a few hours. But in a few hours, hundreds of users could have fallen prey."
More ominously, anywhere between five to 10 crack download videos are uploaded to the video platform every hour, with the threat actors employing search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning techniques to make the videos appear at the top of the results.
Threat actors have also been observed to add fake comments to the uploaded videos to further mislead and entice users into downloading the cracked software.
The development comes amid a surge in new information stealer variants like SYS01stealer, S1deload, Stealc, Titan, ImBetter, WhiteSnake, and Lumma that are offered for sale and come with capabilities to plunder sensitive data under the guise of popular apps and services.
The findings also follow the discovery of a ready-to-use toolkit called R3NIN Sniffer that can enable threat actors to siphon payment card data from compromised e-commerce websites.
To mitigate risks posed by stealer malware, users are recommended to enable multi-factor authentication, refrain from clicking on unknown links, and avoid downloading or using pirated software.