Why Britney Spears’ Instagram Is Key To A Russian Hacking Operation

No, this is not an Onion headline. Hackers are using Britney Spears‘ Instagram for their nefarious operations! It seems tailor made for “Leave Britney alone” jokes, but it is actually happening, much to the surprise of security experts.

The Russian hackers, nicknamed Turla, attempt to trick the user into downloading a “backdoor,” a piece of malware that allows them access to a target’s computer. The software scrapes the computer to send its data to Turla, but first it needs to find the command and control server. This is where the problem comes in.

Hackers need to protect their command and control servers; if a counter-intelligence team finds it and wrecks it, they’ve lost everything and have to rebuild their entire operation. Software that just directly pings the server is easy to find and kill. So what Turla’s backdoor does is scan Britney’s Instagram comments for a piece of a web address. It’s only able to contact the server once it finds it. Spears’ Instagram was chosen for two reasons; she has a gigantic number of followers (nearly 17 million), and she has an equally gigantic number of comments, at least several hundred on every post. Also we’re assuming they’re big fans of Circus, because come on, underrated album.

Britney is blameless here, of course; how would she, or her social media team, have any idea that some garbage comment disguised a Russian hacking operation? But it’s a good reminder that we live in an increasingly ridiculous world, where even pop stars can find themselves dealing with being made into Russian stooges.

(via Huffington Post)