While the price of bitcoin and other cryptos is not where it was in 2017, the price decline has not deterred bad actors from secretly using other people’s computers for mining blockchain-based digital assets and the rate of cryptojacking has skyrocketed by 956% this year as compared to last year, according to a report by Bloqwire on August 29, 2018.
Secret Mining on the Increase
Since the WannaCry malicious malware attack of May 2017, which infected more than 200K computers in over 100 countries across the world, hackers seem to have lost interest in orchestrating ransomware attacks, as there have been fewer cases of the deadly attack since then.
However, these skilled cyberpunks have devised another ingenious means of secretly wreaking havoc on peoples’ computers – cryptojacking.
For the uninitiated, cryptojacking is the process of remotely hijacking the system resources of other people by bad actors, using it to mine cryptocurrencies like Monero without the consent of the victims.
Although the key aim of the attacker is to mine cryptos, these operations often slow down the network performance and may even lead to a hard disk crash if care is not taken.
As detailed in the Midyear Security Roundup published by TrendMicro, a Japanese cybersecurity firm, hackers now prefer cryptojacking peoples systems to mine virtual currencies than conducting ransomware attacks.
The report revealed that in 2018, the TrendMicro team discovered a vast array of malicious cryptocurrency mining software installed on users systems by Cryptojackers without the users’ consent.
“In 2018, we also started detecting only cryptocurrency miner families that have outright malicious behaviors,” said TrendMicro, adding “Despite this distinction, we still saw 47 new cryptocurrency miner malware families. This indicates that different groups, rather than just an invested few,” are latching onto the cryptojacking bandwagon to mine cryptocurrencies.
Hackers Invented a Variety of Vectors
The TrendMicro team further revealed that hackers succeeded in creating several highly functional methods to install crypto mining malware on their victims’ computers, including malvertisements – adverts that are embedded with malware, PHP vulnerability, and many other means.
The figure below shows all the tactics used by bad actors to install cryptocurrency mining malware on people’s computers, from January to June 2018.
Of a truth, these secret crypto mining activities by cryptocriminals have adverse effects on people; it is however not as deadly as cryptocurrency exchange hacks, as the latter often gift hackers millions of dollars worth of coins.
Back in January 2018, hackers broke into the Coincheck crypto exchange and stole over $500 million worth of NEM (XEM) altcoin. The incident has been dubbed the greatest exchange heist in history.