Cyberpunk 2077 Headaches Grow: New Spyware Found in Fake Android Download

Threat actors impersonate Google Play store in scam as Sony pulls the game off the PlayStation store due to myriad performance issues.

Threat actors continue to take advantage of the hype surrounding the release of the videogame Cyberpunk 2077 in a variety of ways. The latest twist is ransomware targeting Android devices disguised as a legitimate download of the new open-world game.

Kaspersky researcher Tatyana Shishkova discovered the malware earlier this week, and in a tweet described the sample as a type of CoderWare ransomware, more specifically of the “Black Kingdom” family.  She noted that the malware code was being promoted as a download of Cyberpunk 2077 from a fake version of the Google Play mobile app marketplace.

The listing for the game, which is named “Cyberpunk 2077 Mobile (Beta),” even had reviews from users so as to appear legitimate – as seen on one of several screenshots of the scam that Shishkova posted on Twitter.

If users click on the download and execute the binary, they received a message informing them that they’ve been infected with CoderWare ransomware. Next, victims are advised, via the ransomware note, to take a screenshot of the message, which contains information for decryption. Hackers request that victims pay $500 in Bitcoin to obtain the key for unlocking decrypted files.

Shishkova, however, noted that CoderWare ransomware uses a hardcoded key, which means that paying the ransom may not be necessary if someone falls victim to the scam.

“RC4 algorithm with hardcoded key (in this example – ‘21983453453435435738912738921’) is used for encryption,” she tweeted. “That means that if you got your files encrypted by this #ransomware, it is possible to decrypt them without paying the ransom.”

CoderWare: A Magnet for Cyber Punks

CoderWare has been linked to Cyberpunk 2077 in the past. The Malware Hunter team tweeted in November that they had discovered a version of the ransomware for Python disguised as a Windows Cyberpunk 2077 installer, according to a report in BleepingComputer. Both that version of CoderWare and the one discovered by Shishkova appear to be variants of the Black Kingdom ransomware, which was seen earlier this year in attacks on Pulse Secure VPNs.

The hotly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 lets players create a character called “V” who lives in Night City and even features a digital Keanu Reeves as a major character. Before the game was even released, threat actors were exploiting its popularity with scams offering “free copies” of the game while stealing personal information, something researchers at Kaspersky also uncovered.

The latest scam is similar but with a twist, as the game is already available for purchase and download for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Stadia, with compatibility with PS5 and Xbox Series X for a price tag of $60.

Rocky Release of Cyberpunk 2077

As if cyber threats surrounding the game aren’t enough to turn game enthusiasts off, there are myriad other issues with Cyberpunk 2077 that gamers have reported with the initial release of the title, including poor performance and numerous bugs and glitches that make the user experience less than pleasant.

It’s gotten so bad that Sony even pulled the game from the PlayStation store, offering those who purchased it already a full refund. To make matters even worse, some users seeking refunds then experienced problems with downloading the form to register for that refund, something Sony said it would fix as soon as possible.

“What a mess!” tweeted James Webber, a writer and director who already downloaded and played Cyberpunk 77—expressing what is likely a similar sentiment among early adopters. “Despite quite enjoying the game so far, I’ve encountered almost too many bugs to count. Hoping for a patch asap.”

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