Over half of online organisations across the globe have been recently attacked by threat actors, who used cryptocurrency mining tools in order to steal computing resources from corporations. According to research, this trend is only likely to continue as we head into 2018.
The interest among such rogue actors in preying on the computing power that runs major streaming services and websites has likely been fuelled by the popularity of digital currencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The latest Global Threat Index (a comprehensive listing of the most prevalent malware in use today) published by Check Point had no fewer than 10 different cryptocurrency mining tools among its numbers. In some of the cases reported, up to 65% of the system’s resources were being utilised for mining purposes without the owner’s knowledge or permission, something far outside any legitimate uses of the software.
While the cybercriminals orchestrating such attacks aren’t poaching their victims’ money or personal data, the tactics they employ remain somewhat similar. By injecting malicious code into online advertising, they are able to install a cryptocurrency mining tool into the host computer (in the most recent examples, a tool for harvesting the Monero altcoin). All it takes is to click on the pop-up ad and you have someone syphoning your processing power without your knowledge.
It should go without saying that the mining tools under consideration here were never created to be used in such a manner. Applications such as Coinhive and Cryptoloot were originally intended as a way for online properties to increase revenue for their sites. However, bad actors are taking these properties and using them for nefarious means, and it’s not just hackers. Some large sites like The Pirate Bay have started to take advantage of their visitors by secretly installing and running CPU-draining mining apps in the background.
As digital currency becomes more mainstream - not to mention more lucrative - this can only be the tip of the iceberg.
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