Bloomberg reported on 14 December 2018 that cryptojacking has overtaken ransomware to be the top malware in many countries such as Turkey, Africa and Middle East.
Cryptojacking refers to the act of manipulating another person’s hardware to mine cryptocurrency without the owner’s permission. The cyber-attack is almost impossible for the owner of the hardware to detect if perfectly executed and is often carried out by having the owner download a private mining software or a fake official one containing the related malware. Its stealth and easiness make it a more popular choice compared to ransomware in the mentioned countries.
A research by Kaspersky Lab, multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, showed that the number of cryptojackings occurring in the regions have increased by 4 times compared to last year, from 3.5 million to an alarming amount of 13 million.
It may also be surprising that cryptojackers are not only targeting personal computers and mining hardware, but even smartphones. There was an increase of 9.5% in cryptojacking targeted towards smartphones from the duration of 2016-2017 to 2017-2018, which is surprising considering smartphones never had sufficient power to be an efficient cryptocurrency mining device.
Kaspersky also reported in November that another reason for cryptojacking to overtake ransomware as a top malware is because of the reluctance of people from developing markets to pay ransom. It saves trouble when ‘free’ profit can be generated simply and immediately by having the victim downloading a certain malware ‘by accident’.
It is worth noting that cryptojacking is not the only crime involving cryptocurrency. Some hackers have been targeting players of ‘Fortnite’, which arguably has the largest player base currently, having them download malware that steals Bitcoin wallet addresses.
However, the report by the cybersecurity firm confirmed that there has been decrease in these attacks in certain areas such as Zambia and Uzbekistan, which showed a 15% and 11% decrease respectively. It was also written that cybercriminals will continue as long as cryptocurrency is received and spread across the globe.
To prevent these malwares from exploiting your hardware, experts recommend implementing the standard defence tactics by being cautious of e-mails containing attachments or messages from people that you do not recognize. Additionally, be sure to always keep your software up to date, so that cybercriminals will not be able to exploit found flaws that still exist in older versions of the software.