Cryptojacking Becomes ‘More Attractive’ to Criminals in The Netherlands, Security Agency Says

Fraudsters started leaving traditional cyber-attack practices like ransomware for crypto hacking as a faster and easier way of stealing money, the latest Dutch government report showed.

Cryptojacking has emerged as one of the new popular digital tools for criminals in the Netherlands, a report by Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism published on Tuesday revealed.  Dubbed Cyber Security Assessment Netherlands 2018 (CSAN), the document outlined various digital threats in the country in the last 12 months including digital criminal attacks related to cryptocurrency.

The security agency used data from the Dutch National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), the Dutch intelligence agencies, other government bodies as well as academia and the business community.

“National security remains under constant threat of digital attacks. The Dutch economy and broader Dutch society have become entirely dependent on digital resources. Attacks and outages can have major consequences, potentially disrupting society itself,” the security agency explained.

The report had a special section about cryptojacking, which increased in the last 12 months while traditional ransomware attacks declined, especially in the second half of 2017.

Cryptojacking is a crypto mining malware attack and happens when browsers of innocent people are hacked without their consent to mine cryptocurrencies. It is different from crypto ransomware attacks when hackers infect people computers and want payment in cryptocurrencies or steal digital coin-related data.

“More and more often, criminals are attempting to make money through cryptojacking, where they use the computing power of the computer systems of unsuspecting third parties for cryptomining,” Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism said in the report.

“The reason for this is that the value of cryptocurrencies has risen in recent years. In addition to criminals, there are instances where internal actors can pose a threat, when they use their employers' systems for cryptomining for their own personal gain.”

The Dutch security agency, which is part of Ministry of Justice, drew attention to Coinhive, a specially designed tool for mining Monero (XMR). One of the largest attacks was in an industrial control targeted for mining XMR.

In February, Global Threat Impact Index data showed that Coinhive continued mining Monero by hacking computers of various organizations.