Malicious ad campaigns with themes connected to artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT have been seen in Google’s search engine, according to Trendmicro researchers.
When a user types in the keyword “midjourney” into Google, several malicious advertisements are displayed. Midjourney is an AI tool that generates images from natural language descriptions.
When a user clicks on one of these sponsored ads, the user’s IP address is transmitted to a backend server, where it is then used to display the user a malicious webpage.
To reduce detection, the backend server can filter bots going to the malicious domain for some of these fraudulent ads.
The server will show a non-malicious version of the domain if the IP address accessing these Midjourney-themed URLs is blocked or visited directly by manually inputting the URL.
Researchers say to interact with its command-and-control (C&C) server; this campaign takes advantage of Telegram’s API. This is an evasion method that enables communication with the C&C server to mix in with regular network traffic, assisting in detection avoidance.
Further, a fake installation window will appear when a victim runs the downloaded installer, and the malicious PowerShell download process will keep running in the background.
“In this particular campaign, victims are eventually led to a Redline stealer once they have downloaded and executed the fake Midjourney installer,” researchers explain.
“Once the script downloads and executes the Redline stealer, it will proceed with the exfiltration of sensitive information such as browser cookies, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet data, and file information.”
Generated traffic from the Redline stealer showing sensitive information being stolen
As a result, businesses and individuals must exercise caution while downloading and using new apps and tools. Users are advised to stop downloading unverified or unofficial apps and clicking on suspicious ads.
Since many AI tools, including ChatGPT and Midjourney, don’t have desktop or mobile apps, such a version is usually a sign of malicious software.
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