The online world can provide criminals with the perfect safe haven to commit fraud, with hackers now able to make as much as $100 million by stealing from innocent people.
This frightening new form of digital theft involves hacking into people’s smartphones and PCs and then installing malware on the device. The hackers then use this malware to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, a digital currency designed to protect the identity of its owner, which evidently has its flaws.
On the internet, digital thieves are protected not only from any direct and immediate repercussions from their victim, but also from their own sense of guilt or morality, and unfortunately hiding behind keyboards and screens enables criminals to remain disassociated from their crimes. This may be why the problem continues to grow. On Wednesday 31st January, the depth and breadth of the problem was explained by Cisco’s Talos division.
Talos highlighted that cryptomining has become so popular among criminals that it may well outdistance Ransomware as the crowd favourite for online theft. This seems, in part, to be a direct result of the monetary value of Monero, as it is currently priced at about $275 per token. Compared to Bitcoin, you need less power to quickly mine a large number of coins.
The criminals use computers to solve the difficult mathematical problems that arise after the solved coins have been unlocked. The speed at which a hacker can mine coins from a PC is relative to the amount of power they are able to compromise from that computer. Talos’s data demonstrates that your standard PC is able to generate about $0.28 of Monero in one day. When a hacker is able to gain control over thousands or perhaps even millions of computers, they can rake in an astonishing amount of money. Cisco’s security division has revealed that one hacker crew can generate up to $100 million.