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Ransomware has been a dreadful cybercrime in the past decades, wreaking havoc on large establishments such as government agencies, hospitals, universities, and many businesses. Cybercriminals leverage any loophole in a firm’s data security and infect the system with malware, hijacking the servers and other relevant data in the process. After obtaining relevant data, they compel the original host into paying a certain amount as ransom before regaining total control again.
This has been the biggest cybercrime concern until recently when a research by Kaspersky Lab shows that crypto mining malware is the new boss in the cybercrime sphere. In this form of cybercrime, the criminal, who is a supposed crypto miner, infects a group of crypto mining devices with malware and conducts background mining with the devices, saving every coin mined.
Although Bitcoin is dubbed the largest cryptocurrency and as such a good target for such crimes, illegal crypto mining attack has spread across different cryptocurrencies including Dogecoin and Monero.
The research by Kaspersky, a cyber-security firm based in Russian, reveals that crypto mining attacks are the leading cybercrime at the moment as their value has spiked from 3.5 million in 2017 to 13 million in 2018. And this value is feared to continue rising as more cryptocurrencies are introduced into the crypto market. According to the report from Kaspersky Lab, this form of cybercrime is prevalent in Africa, Turkey, and the Middle East.
What could be the reason for this huge spike?
Unlike Ransomware attack which is noticed the instance a firm’s data is breached, illegal crypto mining attack can go on for years undetected, making it a good hideout for cybercriminals. Also, Ransomware attack is a game of trial and error. The victimized firm may fall back to back up data or totally ignore the threat, although unlikely, and secure the loophole, leaving the criminal with nothing but the data. Illegal crypto mining attack, on the other hand, has proven to be very lucrative and a win-win situation for the criminal as the machines will definitely mine digital coins and these coins go directly to the criminal’s wallet.
Another logical reason for the rise in crypto mining attacks is that most companies and investments have fortified their cybersecurity system against all forms of ransomware. Due to its notorious popularity, every large establishment has been forced to retain a tight security system when it comes to securing their data, making it very difficult for ransomware attacks. But that is not the case with crypto mining attacks as the illegal activity can go on for years undetected.
Commenting on the situation, the senior security researcher at Kaspersky, Fabio Assolini, said that crypto mining attacks are increasing because “mining is silent and causes less impact than ransomware, making it less noticeable.”