It has been revealed that hackers are illegally generating Bitcoin, Monero and other cryptocurrencies by making the most out of a software flaw leaked from the United States government. This information raises serious questions about the security of one of the fastest growing financial markets. Recently, illicit crypto mining has risen by 459 percent compared to 2017. This is according to a report by the cyber threat alliance released this past Wednesday. This rise in crypto malpractice is attributed to the 2017 leak of eternal blue which is a tool for exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated Microsoft systems software.
When this tool became popular, hackers noticed a previously unknown vulnerability in the tool which they worked fast to make the most of. Since the beginning of July this year, most of illegal crypto mining activity, 85 percent to be exact, has been centred on Monero. This is according to the report by the cybersecurity body. 8 percent of illegal crypto mining activities were targeted at Bitcoin while other Altcoins accounted for 7 percent of the illicit activities.
Using the eternal blue tool vulnerability, hackers have made serious and alarming efforts to commandeer computing power of other users in order to generate digital currencies. Neil Jenkins, the chief analytics officer at cyber thereat alliance commented that hackers can easily sit back and watch the money stream in after masterminding their illicit activities. The cyber threat alliance is a group that was formed 4 years ago by a consortium of cybersecurity firms. The individual member companies deemed the formation of the consortium necessary in order to share intelligence on cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Neil Jenkins also stated that while cybercrimes were a big deal all over the globe, the vice was more prevalent in the United States. The creation of Bitcoin and other Altcoins occurs after the solving of very complex mathematical equations which require very high computing power. Most investors and users lack the means to create or mine these virtual assets forcing them to turn to crypto exchanges in order to buy them. When hackers manipulate systems enabling them to generate crypto using other people’s computer powers, it could erode the value of the cryptocurrencies since the hackers increase the supply of the coins.
Eternal blue was reportedly stolen from the national security agency by a group known as shadow brokers who also leaked it last year in an unsolved breach. This shadow group has been known to release various tools from that breach. The code instilled more fear when Russia and North Korea used it in massive attacks known as “wanna cry” which shut down computers in several countries