The number and sophistication of cyber attacks related to cryptocurrencies appear to have grown in tandem with the market itself.
The new Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec confirms this, labeling cryptojacking the biggest trend of 2017.
The rise of cryptocurrencies has created a new incentive for hackers. We are now entering a “gold rush” of malware that exploits computer CPUs and GPUs to mine cryptocurrencies for nefarious entities.
Symantec’s report shows that incidences of downloader-variant malware have soared by 92%.
Those who steer clear of Windows may consider themselves safe, but Macs also saw an 80% surge in new malware.
Perhaps the most stunning find is that the instances of coin mining software detected by Symantec have rocketed by 8,500%.
“With a low barrier of entry—only requiring a couple lines of code to operate—cyber criminals are using coinminers to steal computer processing power and cloud CPU sage from consumers and enterprises to mine cryptocurrency,” the report said.
The company also sees potential new avenues for hackers looking to exploit devices to mine cryptocurrencies for themselves.
“As malicious coin mining evolves, IoT [Internet of Things] devices will continue to be ripe targets for exploitation,” the report added.
Symantec noted that it found a 600% increase in IoT attacks last year, making them a weak link in many residential and commercial setups that fail to secure themselves against such attacks.
An earlier report by Symantec showed that Sweden got the gold for the highest proportion of cryptojacking incidents in the last quarter of 2017. While the global average increase for cryptocurrency mining malware is around 8,500%, the figure for the country came at a whopping 10,000%.
Hackers have it good: they get a large profit with a minimum effort by modifying a variant of successful malware and setting it to mine to their own wallets.
Perhaps the most sophisticated piece of malware discovered recently was described in a report by the SANS Internet Storm Center.
The software hunts for other coinjackers running in the system and kills them all before mining, making full use of the resources available and thus maximizing the hacker’s profits.
These types of attacks are set to continue their upward trend until cybersecurity companies concentrate their energies on eradicating them.