Meta Warns Users About Malware Disguised as ChatGPT

Written by Muhammad Muneeb Ur Rehman ·  2 min read >

Facebook’s parent company Meta has published a new report which tells the company’s security team has been tracking new malware threats, including ones that weaponize the current AI trend.

“Over the past several months, we’ve investigated and taken action against malware strains taking advantage of people’s interest in OpenAI’s ChatGPT to trick them into installing malware pretending to provide AI functionality,” Meta writes in a new security report.

Meta claims that it has discovered around ten new malware families that are using AI chatbot tools like OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT to hack into users’ accounts.

One of the more pressing schemes, according to Meta, is the proliferation of malicious web browser extensions that appear to offer ChatGPT functionality. Users download these extensions for Chrome or Firefox, for example, in order to use AI chatbot functionality. Some of these extensions even work and provide the advertised chatbot features. However, the extensions also contain malware that can access a user’s device.

According to Meta, it has discovered more than 1,000 unique URLs that offer malware disguised as ChatGPT or other AI-related tools and has blocked them from being shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. 

“Our research and that of security researchers have shown time and again that malware operators, just like spammers, try to latch onto hot-button issues and popular topics to get people’s attention. With an ultimate goal to trick people into clicking on malicious links or downloading malicious software, the latest wave of malware campaigns has taken notice of generative AI tools becoming popular.”

According to Meta, once a user downloads malware, bad actors can immediately launch their attack and constantly update their methods to get around security protocols. In one example, bad actors could quickly automate the process which takes over business accounts and provides advertising permissions to these bad actors.

Meta says it has reported malicious links to the various domain registrars and hosting providers that are used by these bad actors.

In their report, security researchers at Meta also dive into the more technical aspects of recent malware, such as Ducktail and NodeStealer. 

“Similar to Ducktail, we’ve seen blocking and public reporting of these malicious strains force their operators to rapidly evolve tactics to try and stay afloat. We’ve seen them use cloaking in an attempt to circumvent automated ad review systems and leverage popular marketing tools like link shorteners to disguise the ultimate destination of these links. Many also changed their lures to other popular themes like Google’s Bard and TikTok marketing support. Some of these campaigns, after we blocked malicious links to file-sharing and site hosting platforms, began targeting smaller services, such as Buy Me a Coffee – a service used by creators to accept support from their audiences – to host and deliver malware.”

Meta said it had investigated and taken action against malware strains taking advantage of people’s interest in OpenAI’s ChatGPT to trick them into installing malware pretending to provide AI functionality.

“In late January 2023, our security team identified a new malware NodeStealer that targeted internet browsers on Windows with the goal of stealing cookies and saved usernames and passwords to ultimately compromise Facebook, Gmail, and Outlook accounts. NodeStealer is custom-written in JavaScript and bundles the Node.js environment. We assessed the malware to be of Vietnamese origin and distributed by threat actors from Vietnam. “

NodeStealer samples are typically disguised as PDF and XLSX files with an appropriate corresponding icon and a filename meant to trick people into opening malicious files. This tactic makes it difficult for people to see that they are opening a potentially malicious executable instead of an innocuous document.

“After retrieving the Facebook credentials from the target’s browser data, the malware uses it to make several unauthorized requests to Facebook URLs to enumerate account information related to advertising. The malware gains access to this information by making requests from the targeted user’s computer to the APIs used by our Facebook web and mobile apps, which masquerades its activity behind the user’s actual IP address, cookie values, and system configuration – appearing like a legitimate user and their session. This makes the detection of this activity significantly more difficult. The stolen information then enables the threat actor to assess and then use users’ advertising accounts to run unauthorized ads.”

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Written by Muhammad Muneeb Ur Rehman
Muneeb is a full-time News/Tech writer at He is a passionate follower of the IT progression of Pakistan and the world and wants to educate the people of Pakistan about tech affairs. His favorite part about being a tech writer is tech reviews and giving an honest and clear verdict to his readers. Contact Muneeb on his LinkedIn at: Profile