The Monero (XMR) community has launched the Malware Response Workgroup website that aims to inform people about the dangers of cryptocurrency mining malware, as well as, best practices to remove such scripts and avoid the growing scam in the first place. The group of volunteers will publish information that will help users avoid crypto-jacking, as well as, provide live support.
"We will not be able to eliminate malicious mining, but we hope to provide necessary education for people to better understand Monero, what mining is, and how to remove malware," according to Sept. 26 blog by Justin Ehrenhofer.
Mining malware lets fraudsters earn money by using people's computers or gadgets to harvest cryptocurrencies without their knowledge or consent. The scam is increasing at an alarming rate and it's becoming clear that criminals are preferring to hijack cryptocurrencies because of the sophisticated methods that let them avoid detection. "Coin miner malware remains very active; total samples grew by 86% in Q2, with more than 2.5 million new files added to the malware database," according to Sept. 2018 report by McAfee Labs.
Malware can infect a user's browser by hiding itself on frequently-visited websites; install and run itself as software on infected hardware (known as crypto-jacking); or encrypt local files (making them inaccessible) after which a criminal will demand ransom in cryptocurrency. The latter is also known as ransomware, but new studies indicate that this approach is decreasing in popularity.
"We created a set of resources that explain the basics of Monero and mining. We also have resources explaining and helping stop/remove unwanted in-browser mining, system mining, and ransomware," wrote Ehrenhofer on Monero's community blog. "The website is purposefully approachable to absolute newcomers so that anyone can understand, though it offers actionable information that novices and experts alike can follow."
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A Sept. 2018 report by Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) found that fraudsters overwhelmingly prefer to use mining malware with Monero (85%) followed by Bitcoin (BTC) at 8% and all other digital coins combining for 7%. While Bitcoin is pseudonymous, Monero is anonymous and untraceable.
Monero has one of the most robust privacy features of any digital coin and is arguable an unregulatable cryptocurrency. These technical advantages are what attracts criminals who can easily hijack a person or organization's computing hardware to mine Monero, Bitcoin and other cryptos without users knowing and without leaving a trail.
XMR is the 10th-biggest crypto by market capitalization ($1.9 billion) and currently trades at $116. Satis Group predicts that Monero will see the biggest price gains
over the next 10 years among top cryptos.
Much of these threats are coming from eastern Europe and Asia, according to Q6 Cyber founder Eli Dominitz, an IT security firm. "The Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Russians, they're after all of us – corporations, individuals and governments," Dominitz told CNBC in Sept. 21 interview. "For a long time America waited. We weren't proactive, we were defensive. And these guys are smart, they're sophisticated, they've invested a lot of time and money in going after us and we've got to wake up."
A Skybox Security report founder that cyber criminals are turning their focus towards cryptocurrencies because advanced methods let them easily steal computing power and electricity without anyone noticing. "Cryptominers had the highest increase in the number of new malware attacks, from seven percent of reported attacks in the second half of 2017 to 32 percent in the first half of 2018. At the same time, ransomware — the darling of cybercriminals in years past — saw a decline in attacks, essentially swapping market share with cryptominers. While ransomware and the other malware families are still a concern, malicious cryptomining has simply proved too attractive in terms of return on investment."
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