The year of the crypto boom 2017, also signified a big year for crypto heists since cases of crypto-jacking increased by 8,500 percent. 2018 has also come out as a big year for crypto mining malware according to a report by the cyber threat alliance in a report released last month. The report further revealed that the potential for crypto jacking to grow could rise by 500 percent by January next year. The overall growth in mining malware last year had been attributed to the volatility of crypto prices as well as the existence of software bugs, other factors have contributed to them as well including the rising cost of mining crypto legitimately and the participation by amateur crypto jackers.
Most mining malware has been targeted at Monero with a report from Palo Alto networks revealing that Monero accounts for 84.5 percent of all detected malware in comparison to 8 percent for bitcoin as well as 7 percent for other coins. Monero was also the top target for crypto hackers in 2017. 2018 has seen crypto jacking activities being taken over by a hive of amateur hackers lured into the act by the availability of mining malware as well as financial gain. The dark web is flooded with cheap mining software that can be purchased for as little as $0.50 dollars according to Russian Cybersecurity firm Group-IB.
The Russian cyber security firm encountered 99 announcements for sale of crypto jacking software on dark web forums while this year it encountered 477 such announcements which is a 381.8 percent increase. Crypto jacking has become a hobby amongst amateurs in the trade, the jacking model used by this hackers involves attacking victims discreetly by using their CPU or GPU power to build cryptocurrency and then transfer all that into real currency through legal exchanges and transactions. A prevalent piece of malware detected by Macfee was Coinminer which inserts code taken from the Coinhoive XMR mining algorithm into the victim’s computer. The malware strikes when the victim downloads an infected file from the web.
While crypto jacking has been a playing ground for amateur hackers of late, more seasoned hackers are also still in the game. Cybersecurity firm Proofpoint recently reported that Smominru, a crypto jacking botnet had spread to over half a million computers. This vulnerability is better known as eternal blue responsible also for the “wanna cry” attacks in 2017. The cyber threat alliance has worryingly indicated that cases of cyber-ware were more likely to increase as long as the practice is profitable.
Cost is also a relevant factor in the scheme of things since it jacking cases will continue to become prevalent as long as it remains expensive to legitimately mine XMR as well as other cryptos. According to what some cybersecurity firms have observed, a drop in the costs of mining legitimately would mean a decrease in cases of crypto jacking.