SECURITY OUTFIT Symantec has revealed that cryptocurrency coin mining was the biggest trend in the threat landscape in 2017.
Blaming the surge on the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the security firm said that detections of coinminers on endpoint computers, or coinjacking, surged by an incredible 8,500 per cent in 2017.
For those who aren’t already aware, a coinminer is a file or script that is used to mine cryptocurrencies. Cyber criminals have started warming to this cybercrime technique more and more to make money as its proven successful due to a huge rise in the value of cryptocurrencies of late, especially in the last quarter of 2017, making it extremely profitable.
“Cyber criminals use coinminers to steal victims’ computer processing power and cloud CPU usage to mine cryptocurrencies,” explained Symantec in a blog post about its latest threat intelligence report.
“The barrier to entry for coinmining is pretty low — potentially only requiring a couple of lines of code to operate – and coinmining can allow criminals to fly under the radar in a way that is not possible with other types of cybercrime.
“Victims may not even realise a coinminer is slurping their computer’s power as the only impact may be a slowdown of their device that they could easily attribute to something else.”
The firm said that coinmining on users’ devices, however, could potentially cause batteries to overheat and devices to become unusable.
Consumers aren’t the only ones hit, either. Symantec claimed that it also has major implications for organisations.
“Self-propagating coinminers may require corporate networks to be shut down, [while] coinmining in the cloud also has financial implications for organisations that are being billed based on CPU usage.”
While malicious coinminers appear to thus far be primarily targeting computers and mobile phones, for now, Symantec also warned that cybercriminals may increasingly target IoT devices, such as smart home gadgets and wearables.
“We observed a 600 percent increase in overall attacks on IoT devices in 2017, showing that while they didn’t make headlines like they did thanks to the Mirai botnet in 2016, they are still very much a target for cybercriminals,” the firm added. µ
Source : Inquirer