Popular PC-cleaning software used by over 130 million people put users at risk after hackers were able to insert malware into legitimate downloads.
Piriform’s CCleaner, owned by antivirus provider Avast, was found to be hosting a “multi-stage malware payload” that could install ransomware or keyloggers and further infect target computers on command.
According to Avast, around 2.27 million people ran the affected software, which was delivered via a hacked server. The impact is damaging, but considering that the application has amassed over 2 billion downloads and adds around 5 million new users each month, it could have been significantly worse.
Thankfully, if you update your CCleaner to the latest version, you should be fine. Avast was made aware of the malicious code on September 12, but had to act quickly and covertly to neutralize the threat.
In the past, attackers would create fake alternatives of popular applications and trick people into downloading them. The trend now, however, is to attack the download source directly and gain access to legitimate servers. Once they are in, it’s a case of loading the trusted software with a nefarious payload, with the end-user being none the wiser.