This Malware Pretends to Be a Flash Update But Is Really Mining Cryptocurrency

Wit Olszewski/

Be extra careful when that update box pops up.

Have you ever absent-mindedly clicked "yes" to update Adobe Flash? You probably did it to watch a video or play a game online. 

But next time, take a closer look at that Flash update: It could be a malware installing cryptomining software on your computer. This is according to a new report from Unit 42, the threat research team of Palo Alto Networks, released Thursday.

While the malware mines the cryptocurrency Monero, it threatens your computer system's responsiveness and CPU usage.

This isn't the first scheme to try to use Adobe Flash as a cover. But in this instance, the malware mimics the appearance of the Flash update box and it updates Flash to avoid suspicion. 

"In most cases, fake Flash updates pushing malware are not very stealthy," said Brad Duncan, threat analyst for Unit 42. "Because of the legitimate Flash update, a potential victim may not notice anything out of the ordinary."

The researchers have identified 113 cases of this particular scheme since March.

There are a few things you can do to avoid falling into a trap like this. Maintain good cyber hygiene by backing up your data, using strong passwords and avoid clicking on suspicious links. Also, keep all systems and programs up to date, including the real Adobe Flash.