While ransomware isn’t dead by any means, there is a new leading cyberthreat – cryptojacking.
Last year’s cyber news cycles were dominated by ransomware attacks, but cryptocurrency jacking malware has overtaken it the past months as various online security studies show that the majority of newly discovered cyber attacks are designed for it.
For the uninclined, cryptojacking infects systems with malicious codes, then utilising the infected CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Cryptocurrency mining is meant to solve complex computations that verify cryptocurrency transactions. If successful, miners get cryptocurrency as a compensation.
Experts believe that cybercriminals are moving to cryptojacking as it presents a more profitable return when compared to ransomware.
When reviewing the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, cryptojacking numbers have increased by more than 1000% – from at least 400,000 to 2.9 million cases.
During the same number of months, ransomware has decreased by at least 30%. This is also believed to be a direct effect of an 80% decrease in Android lock screen-focused malware.
Cryptojacking has overtaken Ransomware as the more popular weapon of choice for hackers
Other researches have also backed up the idea of cryptojacking replacing ransomware as another study showed that the number of users who have come across mining malware has increased by more than 40% in the last 12 months.
Another finding amongst the studies focused on cryptojacking noted that a good number of mining operations were traced back to university networks.
While it wasn’t always clear if they were of the malicious type, the increase in on-campus cryptocurrency mining activities could be a direct result of the surge in cryptocurrency value.
This could definitely change as the market for cryptocurrency has been on a decline in recent weeks with most currencies experiencing hefty decreases in their value.
Cybercriminals use different methods in infiltrating computer systems to begin their cryptojacking attacks.
One method would be employing malware downloaders typically used for ransomware, keyloggers, and other cyber threats.
Another method employs a social engineering scam such as a fraudulent lottery prize, wherein to participate, victims are asked to download random a number generator from a file-sharing source and install it on their computers.
Other methods include hackers installing scripts on browsers, which infect legitimate websites to spread their code; or when corporate servers are infected with the mining malware.
Researchers who have studied cryptojacking in corporate systems have seen lucrative payouts for hackers with one attack siphoning cryptocurrency worth around USD 2 million.
While cryptojacking might seem like such a frightening malware to face, it isn’t that difficult to protect yourself against them.
One way of avoiding this type of cyber attack is to never open email attachments from unknown or questionable sources.
Other ways of protecting yourself and your devices would be keeping all your software up-to-date, restoring your backups periodically, and running antivirus software that is able to fight off ever-evolving threats.
To never fall victim to cryptojacking schemes or other similar threats, ensure you have complete protection for all the ways you connect with Trend Micro Maximum Security.