Cryptocurrency mining malware now exceeds ransomware threat

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

Criminal cryptocurrency mining, or “cryptojacking,” has become exceedingly widespread among cybercriminals than ransomware, according to a report by Skybox Security.

Skybox Security reports that crypto miners now account for 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent, according to the company’s mid-year update.

Cryptojacking utilizes code hidden on websites or devices to harnesses victims’ computing resources, such as the central processing unit and bandwidth to mine cryptocurrencies.

The company’s vulnerability report unveils a distinguished shift in the preferences of cyberattackers when it comes to choosing the tools of their illicit trade.

Skybox determined that the situation was almost exactly reversed in the second half of 2017. While ransomware attacks, in which the data on an individual’s computer is encrypted by malware and only unlocked upon payment of a fee, comprised approximately 32 percent of all attacks, cryptojacking represented 7 percent of the total at the time.

The swap in popularity is partly down to the rise in the price of cryptocurrencies at the end of last year.

Skybox said the ransomware model was seeing diminishing returns as victims stopped paying up on reports that data was not being decrypted as promised. Increasing adoption of user protections, such as data backups and better protective tools, were also cited as a factor.

In the update, which was first reported by Computing, the company said, “Cryptocurrency miners may be the new kid on the block, but they’re taking over. With high-profit opportunity and a low chance of being discovered or stopped, this malware tool provides a money-making safe haven for cybercriminals.”