The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies has forced cybercriminals to invest resources in the development of more robust mining technologies to replace the typical ransomware Trojans, reports Kaspersky Lab’s cyber threat research arm Securelist, November 28, 2018.
Cryptojacking Almost as Famous as Ransomware Attacks
A cybersecurity bulletin titled “Story of the year: miners” talks about the emerging trends among the cybercriminals to mine cryptocurrencies in the target users’ computer system.
The report mentions the high number of miner-related attacks in Q1 2018, a time period which coincides with the famous cryptocurrency bull run that saw the price of bitcoin brush the $20,000 mark.
Similarly, the end of the bull run commensurated with a major decline in the global crypto mining attacks.
Although, the recent spike in interest in cryptocurrencies caused due to the market bloodbath has again turned heads towards the industry, and it remains to be seen how the cryptojackers would react to the infamous November collapse.
(Source: Kaspersky Labs)
One of the characteristics of crypto-mining that makes it an attractive medium of attack among the cybercriminals is its near-negligible chances of detection by the infected system’s owner. This, in turn, mitigates the chances of encountering the cyber police.
Further, the report posits that cryptojacking has become almost as famous, if not more, as ransomware attacks. 2018 saw several cases of re-configured malware with added functionality for digital currencies mining. Rapid technological advancement has also enabled developers to create more sophisticated mining scripts.
Distribution of Crypto Miner Attacks
A key finding in the report is with regard to the distribution of miners throughout the world. The report opines that there is almost no correlation between legislative control over cryptocurrencies and the spread of hidden mining.
For example, in Vietnam and Algeria crypto is either prohibited or almost handicapped under domestic law. But surprisingly, both the countries rank among the top 10 nations by the number of miner attacks, occupying third and sixth place, respectively. The following chart paints an interesting picture concerning the status of cryptocurrencies in the country compared to the percentage of cryptojacking attacks it faces.
At the other end of the spectrum, US users were the least affected by cryptojacking attacks (1.33%), followed by users in Switzerland (1.56%) and Britain (1.66%).
Whether the crypto minting attacks by cybercriminals will surge, as previously concluded by Kaspersky Lab, or witness a cool down once more regulations and safety measures are introduced by the governments the world over, only time will tell.