2018 has proven to be the year of cryptocurrency mining malware. Cybercriminals are gradually discarding other types of malware and ransomware in support of malware capable of hijacking computers and mining cryptocurrency.
Mining cryptocurrency needs computers to solve the difficult problems necessary to confirm cryptocurrency dealings and add them to the blockchain account book. That needs substantial processing power and takes time. In exchange for carrying out the service, the miner that resolves the problem is compensated with a small amount of cryptocurrency. In order for this to be lucrative, substantial computer processing power is needed. That can be accomplished in two ways. Purchasing the hardware or hijacking other people’s computers.
The high value of cryptocurrencies makes mining an attractive possibility, particularly if a cybercriminal can hire an army of computers to carry out the processing. One computer can earn a few dollars a day. 10,000 computers infected with cryptocurrency mining malware makes this a very lucrative operation. That fact has not been lost on cybercriminals.
2018 has seen a huge increase in the use of cryptocurrency mining malware. In the first quarter of 2018, McAfee informs there was a 629% increase in the number of cryptocurrency mining malware samples it interrupted. That rising tendency has continued all through Q2. As per the September McAfee Threat Statement, there was an additional 86% rise in identified cryptocurrency mining malware samples in Q2.
“Using cryptomining malware is simpler, more straightforward, and less dangerous than conventional cybercrime activities – causing these schemes to rise steeply in fame over the last few months. Actually, cryptomining malware has rapidly developed as a main player on the danger landscape,” said Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee.
Although PCs are most usually targeted, cybercriminals have now split out and are also using other Internet-connected appliances to mine cryptocurrency, including Android smartphones. These appliances have much lower processing power than PCs, however since they are comparatively easy to capture, the sheer number of appliances that can be infected more than makes up for their low processing power.
There has also been the main increase in the use of malware that abuse software weaknesses. These kinds of malware rose by 151% in Q2, 2018. “WannaCry and NotPetya provided cybercriminals convincing instances of how malware might use weakness exploits to gain a footing on systems and after that rapidly spread across networks,” said Christiaan Beek, Lead Scientist and Senior Principal Engineer at McAfee. A lot of malware variations have been created that impersonate WannaCry and NotPetya.
The McAfee report also demonstrates there was a 57% growth in ransomware samples in the previous year, and although use is still increasing, reputation is decreasing with just 27% increase seen in Q2, 2018.