Beware of dangerous PDF malware on email! It can break your Windows PC; just DON’T do this

Online hackers are using PDF, and Word files loaded with malicious malware sent via email or text to innocent people. Know how to identify these fake emails.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 12:40 IST
Online hackers are using new tactics to spread malware. Know what you shouldn’t do. (Unsplash )
Online hackers are using new tactics to spread malware. Know what you shouldn’t do. (Unsplash )

Online hackers are using different tactics to invade your devices and steal all your personal details and even money. Recently, the research team at HP found a new malware that has been circulated via email along with attachments. Basically, it is in the form of PDF malware! Yes, a PDF which is carrying malware potent enough to damage a Windows PC or laptop. The report mentions that these malware-enabled PDF files are being included with a message that exhibits payment details and invoices, which often allure users to open the email. The message construction is such that hackers try to make users believe that there is some kind of payment-related information inside the attached PDF.

And once the PDF is opened, it will ask users to open another Word document - which is the gateway for malware to enter your Windows laptop or PC. The file is loaded with the malicious Snake Keylogger malware. And once it is in your laptop device, it will let hackers spy on almost everything that you do from typing, and stealing your passwords to personal data, which can further lead to identity fraud.

Why are hackers using PDF and Word files to spread malware?

While sharing the finding of the Snake Keylogger malware, the Threat Research team of HP mentioned, "For the past decade, attackers have preferred to package malware in Microsoft Office file formats, particularly Word and Excel. In fact, in Q1 2022 nearly half (45 percent) of malware stopped by HP Wolf Security used Office formats.” The report explained that the simple reason behind using PDF or word files for spreading malware is that users are familiar with these file types. It further explained that hackers are employing several tricks to escape the detection, such as embedding malicious files, loading remotely-hosted exploits, and shellcode encryption.

What should Windows users do to protect themselves from PDF malware?

  • Researchers explained that this new PDF malware basically relies on the user running on an out-of-date version of your operating system. The simplest way to protect yourself from PDF Malware is to download the latest version of Windows available on your device.
  • Even if you are up-to-date, you should always be aware of unsolicited messages or emails, especially those who take you to a new Window or carry external links or PDF, word files.
  • Always double-check a few things about these email or PDF malware. The easiest way to detect a scam includes simply having a look at the sender's email address. Do ensure to cross-check the sender's email ID with the name of the company that is mentioned in the mail.
  • If you are in doubt, then you should always directly contact the company to see if the message is from them. This may be a time-taking process but it can save you from ending up in the trap.

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First Published Date: 27 May, 17:24 IST