Cryptojacking Overtakes Ransomware in Popularity

A new report by Malwarebytes shows the cryptojacking threat is growing in popularity in comparison to other types of cryptocurrency-related malware attacks.

It appears hackers are finding it more profitable to engage in cryptojacking than rely on traditional ransomware for their monies.

The latest Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques report by Malwarebytes shows that ransomware is starting to dip in popularity, with a 35% drop from the previous quarter in the consumer market.

At the same time, cryptojacking is marching to superstardom, increasing by 27% over the last quarter alone against businesses. In February alone, 550,000 such attacks were detected by the anti-malware software developer, with 400,000 recorded for March.

Overall, attacks detected in the first quarter are fewer than those occurring last year (especially in its third quarter), but their number is still too massive for comfort.

“A huge spike in September and October 2017 resulted in more than 25 million detections of cryptomining malware on consumer machines. By March, the decline still left us with 16 million detections,” the report said.

Malwarebytes continues to see a large number of attacks carried out successfully on mobile devices through malicious APKs released in channels both inside and outside Google Play.

In this particular department, Android attacks increased by 4,000% in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous three months.

“While targeting mobile devices for computer power may seem counterintuitive, it’s little effort for threat actors to add miners to already malicious apps in order to up the ante,” Malwarebytes adds.

The company cites as an example the Loapi trojan, which propagated itself by sending SMS messages with a link to its downloader.

This piece of malware was once described as a “Swiss army knife” infection since it would infiltrate the system more holistically than the typical piece of malware. Hackers dropped a miner in it and essentially transformed it into their own vessel for cryptojacking.

The downward trend in cryptojacking attacks is less likely to be the result of consumer and business caution than of the hit that major cryptocurrencies took in their value during the last price correction.

Malwarebytes isn’t the only company sounding the alarm on this phenomenon.

Not too long ago, Symantec said in a research report it had found an 8,500% increase in cryptojacking malware through 2017.