Hackers Hijack Transneft Computers to Mine Monero

Russian oil pipelines operator Transneft said its computers were used for cryptocurrency mining by hackers going afterMonero tokens. The company claims it can now effectively prevent such attacks.

Russian oil transportation giant Transneft disclosed on Friday that some of its computers had been utilized for cryptocurrency mining, Reuters reported, citing company spokesman Igor Demin.  Transneft’s hardware devices were used without authorization for mining Monero tokens, Demin said, adding that the company had implemented measures to avoid repeat offenses of this kind.

State-owned Transneft is the largest Russian company in the oil transportation sector, mostly focusing on solutions for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is currently considered the largest oil pipeline company worldwide.

According to Demin, the cryptocurrency mining program was downloaded from the Internet by a Transneft PC and subsequently removed. The press secretary also noted that other companies could encounter problems with unauthorized programs for cryptocurrency mining.

Monero, the coin targeted by the miners, is currently the 11th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. It issues a token used by individuals to make payments without the involvement of banks. Monero offers more anonymity than Bitcoin. It became even more attractive for investors, miners, and speculators after the launch of Project Coral Reef.

On Thursday, Transneft VP Vladimir Rushailo said during a company meeting:

“Incidents where the company’s hardware was used to manufacture cryptocurrency have been found. It could have a negative impact on the productivity of our processing capacity.”

Reuters went on to cite an industry expert as saying that hackers might follow this pattern more often. Pavel Lutsik, information security projects leader at Croc IT, said:

 “More and more people have learned that, in fact, they do not even need to stand up from the sofa to make money - if they are not caught.”

Russian laws currently stipulate that any person who makes attempts to hack company servers could be imprisoned for up to six years. Lutsik told Reuters that the sentence duration might go up to 10 years in 2018.

In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the country had to regulate cryptocurrencies and mining.