Cryptomining overtakes Ransomware as leading malware and cause of headaches for IT

According to experts, current crypto value is said to reach one trillion dollars this year. With an estimated five-to-ten million active wallets.

Take Statista, who reports the price of Bitcoin experienced an increase from about 371 U.S. dollars in January 2016 to over 13 thousand by December 2017. Also, market capitalization of Bitcoin rose from $0.04 billion in Q1 2012 to over $230 billion in Q4 2017.

Many of us would be lying if we said we hadn’t at least thought about getting on the crypto-wagon to make some fast money.

While more traditional investors advise everyone to remain calm and only invest what they can afford (as they remind people that there’s no intrinsic value to the asset), market volatility remains palpable.

But it is not all pretty up there.

Security issues at the exchanges affect the market value

First there are all the recent exchange scandals. Take, for example, the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail, which was hacked in June to the tune of $40 Billion dollars.

Coinrail said it was hit by cyber intrusion, causing a loss for about 30% of the coins traded on the exchange. It did not quantify the value, “but the local Yonhap news agency estimated that about 40bn won (£27.8m) worth of virtual coins was stolen.”

Coinrail soon updated its website to say that “Seventy-percent of your coin rail total coin/token reserves have been confirmed to be safely stored and moved to a cold wallet and are in storage.”

This is yet again an excellent reminder of why security experts always advise to keep your wallet on a secure key in your possession, and not on an exchange.

Cryptomining malware on the rise

The second problem is the rise of unauthorised crypto-mining, a seriously growing concern.

A recent report from Check Point states that between January and June 2018, the number of organizations impacted by cryptomining malware doubled to 42%, compared to 20.5% in the second half of 2017. In fact, it has reportedly even surpassed ransomware as the most widely hitting malware type. For the first half of 2018, Check Point says that the top three most common malware variants were all cryptominers. 

The report explains that big improvements in capabilities is helping the miners grab unauthorised computational resources. Some cryptomining malware uses as much as 65% of the victim’s processing power.

Just this week, a League of Legends online gaming platform, run by GArena, discovered its code had been modified to run a the Coinhive miner, an easily embeddable tool that mines a privacy-focused coin called Monero.”Some users of the game noticed a decrease in performance and discovered that some kind of cryptocurrency miner was working in the back end,” this report explained.

And it looks like a growing problem. “Cryptominers have also highly evolved recently to exploit high profile vulnerabilities and to evade sandboxes and security products in order to expand their infection rates,” explains Help Net Security.

Even the big boys are concerned. Cisco recently added a new security category to its arsenal, allowing users to block identities from accessing known cryptomining pools.

But there is a little more to it than just flicking a setting. Check out our recent post called Cryptomining – How Prevalent Is It And How To Stop It . It provides a deep dive of resources and information on identifying and preventing crypto miners from invading your environment.

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