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Malicious activity in Discord chats

In the six years since Discord’s chat and VoIP service launch, the platform has become a popular tool for building communities of interest, especially among gamers. However, as with any other venue that hosts user-generated content, Discord can be exploited. Discord’s vast customization options also open the door to attacks on ordinary users inside and outside the chat server. A recent investigation of Discord’s security revealed several cyber attack scenarios linked to its chat service, some of which can be downright dangerous for users. We tell you how to protect yourself.

Malware spreading through Discord

Malicious files distributed via Discord pose the most obvious threat. Several dozen types of malware were identified in a recent study. We say that this threat is “obvious” only because sharing files on Discord is so easy; Each file uploaded to the platform is assigned a permanent URL in this format:

cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/{channel ID}/{file ID}/{file name}

Most of the files are available for download to anyone with the link.

The study describes a real-life attack example: a fake website offering Zoom Web conferencing client downloads. The website resembles the real one, and the malicious file is hosted on a Discord server. This bypasses restrictions on downloading files from unknown sources. The rationale is that the servers of a popular application used by millions are less likely to be blocked by anti-malware solutions.

The malicious “trick” is as evident as the way to combat it: High-quality security solutions don’t just look at the source of the download to determine the threat level of a file. Kaspersky tools immediately detect malicious functionality the first time a user tries to download the file, for example, and then, with the help of a cloud-based security system, warn other users that the file should be locked.

Discord developers need to implement at least essential means of protection for users. For example, files used on a particular chat server do not need to be available to everyone. It’s also a good idea to automatically check for and block known malware. However, it is not the only one that users face.

Malicious bots

Another recent study demonstrates how easy it is to exploit Discord’s bot system. Bots extend the functionality of the chat server in several ways, and Discord offers a wide range of options to customize chats for users. It could look something like this:

A malicious chatbot executes an arbitrary program on a user’s computer in response to a Discord chat command. Font

In an attack scenario, the malicious code relies on a locally installed Discord client to run on boot automatically. Installing a bot from an untrusted source can result in this type of infection.

 

The researchers also reviewed another Discord misuse scenario that doesn’t rely on the user having a Discord client installed. In this case, the malware uses the chat service to communicate. Thanks to the public API, simple registration process, and basic data encryption, a backdoor can be quickly and conveniently used. Discord to send data about the infected system to its operator and, in turn, receive commands to execute code, download malicious new modules, and more.

This type of scenario seems very dangerous; it simplifies the work of attackers, who do not need to create a communication interface with infected computers but can use something already available. At the same time, it somewhat complicates the detection of malicious activity; Conversations between the backdoor and its operator resemble regular user activity in a popular chat.

Protection for gamers

While the above threats apply to all Discord users, they primarily concern those who use Discord as a game plugin: for voice and text communication, streaming, collecting game statistics, etc. This usage means good customization and increases users’ risk of finding and installing malicious extensions.

We recommend using the same digital hygiene rules on Discord that you use anywhere else on the web. Don’t click on suspicious links or download suspicious files; scrutinize offers that sound too good to be accurate, and avoid sharing your personal or financial information.

As for Trojans and backdoors, based on Discord or only distributed through the platform, are not unique or essentially different from other malware. Use a reputable antivirus application to keep yourself safe. Leave it running at all times, even when installing any software or adding bots to a chat server, and pay attention to its warnings.

Performance doesn’t have to be a problem. For example, our security products include a gaming mode that minimizes additional load without compromising protection.

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