Cryptomining malware supersedes ransomware in 2018: report

Posted: 18 July 2018 3:05 pm

The decrease in ransomware attacks could be due to the simplicity and convenience of cryptojacking.

A new mid-year research report has revealed that there has been significantly more malicious cryptomining, commonly referred to as “cryptojacking”, than ransomware attacks during the first half of the year.

The report, Vulnerability and Threat Trends 2018, is an analysis of current vulnerabilities, exploits and threats that exist in the ever-changing cyber landscape. The publishers, Skybox Security, also outline defense strategies.

Cryptomining malware accounted for nearly one third (32%) of all attacks between January and June 2018. This same statistic was true of ransomware attacks during the second half of last year. However, in the first half of 2018, less than one in ten (8%) cyber attacks employed ransomware.

If 2017 was the year of ransomware, 2018 looks likely to go down as the year of cryptominers. Malicious cryptomining made up nearly a third of attacks in the first half of 2018 – a statistic held by ransomware in the last half of 2017.

Skybox Security: Vulnerability and Threat Trends 2018

Remote access trojan attacks (17%) and botnet malware (12%) also saw increases in the first half of this year, compared to the second half of 2017. However, the report found that all other types of malware attacks diminished over the same period. This may indicate that illicit cryptomining is simpler and more profitable.

The decrease in ransomware attacks could be due to the fact that in order to successfully pull off a ransomware heist, the victim needs to lack reliable backups. Victims must also have quick, easy access to cryptocurrency
and trust the attacker to uphold their promise of returning what was seized or stolen in the first place.

“For many threat actors, ransomware has ultimately become more trouble than it’s worth. Especially with the rise of cryptocurrency miners which eliminate the issue of uncooperative victim,” according to the report.

Software company Check Point revealed that every 10 minutes, bitcoin commits a new block of transactions to its ledger and awards 12.5 BTC to its miner. At bitcoin’s current exchange rate ($7,400), that’s around
$93,500 paid to miners every 10 minutes, which is equivalent to approximately $4.9 billion per year.

The report explains that cryptomining uses computational power to create new blocks on the blockchain. As more blocks are added to the chain, more power is required. Cryptojacking is the act of utilizing other people’s computer power to mine cryptocurrencies without permission. It’s also often able to run undetected.

To avoid cryptomining attacks, the reports suggests people remain vigilant about how their computer operates, beware of phishing emails containing suspicious links or malware file attachments and download responsibly. Patching vulnerabilities, particularly on high-value servers, is a security solution for businesses.

“Organizations and individuals can also block browser–based cryptomining software by installing a plugin to warn you when a site is trying to use your machine to mine or that blocks the mining domains,” the report said.

This week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) released a warning to buyers and traders of “utility coins” or “consumption coins” and tokens, cautioning against rushed decisions and a lack of research.

A separate digital currency study released earlier this week revealed that of the thousands of ICOs that were completed before May this year, a little more than half failed within the first four months of listing.

You can learn all about different exchanges, understand exactly how to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, calculate your taxes, discover digital wallets to hold assets and explore a list of all the alternative coins on the market.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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