December 14, 2021 By David Bisson 2 min read

Digital attackers are using Netflix’s popular series “Squid Game” as a lure for their malware campaigns and phishing operations.

Two Trojan Downloaders Targeting Fans

Kaspersky uncovered dozens of different malicious files related to Squid Game between September and October 2021, reported PC Mag.

In one of those attack instances, a user came across an animated version of the first game depicted in Netflix’s series. What the user didn’t know is that the campaign downloaded a trojan in the background. Once launched, that threat stole the user’s data from their web browser and exfiltrated it to a server under the attackers’ control.

The attack operation also created a shortcut in one of the victim’s folders. This ensured that the trojan would launch every time the victim’s system started up.

Another attack discovered by the security firm arrived in the form of a mobile malware threat relying on unofficial app stores and other portals for distribution. It tantalized a user with the prospect of downloading an episode from Squid Game. In reality, the user downloaded a trojan onto their device.

Other Squid Game Malware Findings from the Community

Kaspersky isn’t the only security firm that’s observed malicious actors using Squid Game as a lure for their attack campaigns.

In mid-October, for instance, Forbes reported on the discovery of a malicious Squid Game-themed wallpaper app that infiltrated Google’s Play Store.

With 5,000 downloads at the time of its discovery and removal by Google, the malware turned out to be a sample of the Joker Android malware family. This threat targeted victims with ad fraud and/or signed them up for premium SMS-based text message services.

It was just a few weeks later when Proofpoint flagged a campaign targeting all industries in the United States. The attack emails arrived with a Squid Game-themed subject line like “Squid game new season commercials casting preview” and “Squid game scheduled season commercials talent cast schedule”.

All the emails instructed the victim to download an attached document for the purpose of either obtaining early access to the new season of the show or for auditioning to become part of the background cast.

Those attachments consisted of macro-laden Excel documents. If enabled, those spreadsheets downloaded samples of the Dridex banking trojan.

How to Defend Against Squid Game-Themed Malware

Organizations can protect themselves against Squid Game-themed digital threats by cultivating their employees’ security awareness.

Businesses can remind their employees of general best practices, including checking the authenticity of a website before submitting any personal information or downloading anything by double-checking URL formats and the spellings of company names.

They can also instruct employees to avoid downloading suspicious files and to avoid interacting with links that promise early access to web content.

More from News

CISA releases landmark cyber incident reporting proposal

2 min read - Due to ongoing cyberattacks and threats, critical infrastructure organizations have been on high alert. Now, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has introduced a draft of landmark regulation outlining how organizations will be required to report cyber incidents to the federal government. The 447-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been released and is open for public feedback through the Federal Register. CISA was required to develop this report by the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of…

Recent developments and updates in Biden cyber policy

3 min read - The White House recently released its budget for the 2025 fiscal year, which supports the government’s commitment to cybersecurity. The cybersecurity funding allocations line up with the FY 2025 cybersecurity spending priorities released last year that included the following pillars: Defend critical infrastructure Disrupt and dismantle threat actors Shape market forces to drive security and resilience Invest in a resilient future Forge international partnerships to pursue shared goals. In 2023, the White House released a 35-page document detailing the new…

Change Healthcare cyberattack causes dire billing crisis

3 min read - Last month’s cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a sizable unit of UnitedHealth Group, brought new repercussions rarely seen in a cyberattack. As a result of the threat actor’s actions, healthcare systems and providers suffered cash flow issues, which resulted in providers being unable to pay their rent, owners dipping into their personal savings and patients being prevented from receiving important medications. Most importantly, patients are unable to get insurance approval for procedures, surgeries and prescriptions, which can affect their health outcomes.…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today