- A new report shows Monero as the most illegally mined crypto coin
- Over a million miners discovered to have been mining illegally
- Bitcoin is also said to be mined illegall
Sergio Pastrana, from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Guillermo Suarez-Tangil, from King’s College London on January 3, 2019, released a paper citing the actions of illegal cryptocurrency mining. The paper reveals that Monero (XRM) is the most affected digital asset with 4.3 percent of its total supply being mined illegally.
Hijacking the User’s Computer Resources to Mine Illegally
First, the paper explains that mining cryptocurrency unlawfully involves hijacking the users’ resources. This is made possible either by using cryptocurrency programs for web browsers or malware. In the case of the latter, the paper notes that this malware can easily be purchased online for a few dollars which have brought about its popularity.
In line with that, 4.4 million malware samples and 1 million miners have been identified between 2007 to 2018. Data were then extracted from these samples to ascertain the virtual currencies affected by this fraud.
Monero Becomes a Favorite Among Illegal Miners
Consequently, Monero falls at the top of the list and has been categorized as the “most popular digital asset” susceptible to cybercrime. The study also says 4.32% of the circulating coin supply has been illegally mined. This percentage accounts for revenue of $57 million, but then, the estimate is based on Monero’s price as at when it was cashed out.
According to the paper, Bitcoin was the major target in the past given that 2,000 malware samples were discovered in 2014. However, more priority has been placed on other virtual currencies like Monero because mining Bitcoin is less profitable. It was also revealed that between 2013 to 2014, Dogecoin and Litecoin were experimented upon.
Mining With the Use of Rented Machines is More Profitable
Reportedly, an encrypted mining rig for Monero costs $35. There are also cases where miners opt to share their machines for free, in return for a small donation. These machines have more complex infrastructures, and as such, they are rented out in the marketplace. The writers emphasize that mining with machines of this nature is usually more profitable.
Although these activities are beneficial to some set of individuals, the paper notes that it can affect individuals as well as organizations. This is because it provides a massive income for cybercriminals and these are funds that may be used to sponsor other crimes. Stealing a user’s resources has negative implications on their computer’s hardware, the paper also adds.
The difficulty in detecting these operations has also been outlined. In the case of malware mining, for instance, these are operations carried out when the CPU is idle. As a result, the owner of the computer is unaware that their electricity is being consumed and hardware components are fully functional.
McAfee, a U.S.-based Computer security company, had released a report in December 2018, stating a 4,000 percent increase in crypto-mining malware. Their research revealed that as of 2017, there were less than 500,000 malware threats in comparison to four million threats as at the third quarter of 2018.