Cryptocurrency mining malware is on rise

Illicit cryptocurrency mining, also known as Cryptojacking is increasingly being used by cybercriminals to raise funds, WatchGuard Technologies report reveals.

Malicious software that engages in cryptocurrency mining on unsuspecting users’ computers is on the rise. Furthermore, such cryptocurrency mining malware is increasingly finding its way into corporate networks to mine digital coins.

Cryptocurrency miners are launching new threats to Linux-based systems in an attempt to install their crypto jacking software. Cryptojacking continues to gain momentum, with 98.8% of common Linux/Downloader malware variants in the first quarter of 2018. Linux systems have been considered less vulnerable to crypto mining threats over the years, but that landscape is apparently changing.

The network security company made the conclusion after analysing threat intelligence from its network of security devices deployed in corporate environments around the world. It found widespread evidence of malware designed to deliver cryptocurrency mining software on enterprise networks, including those of small and medium-sized businesses. The company has published the findings in its 2018 Internet Security Report.

Although cryptocurrency miners did not make Watchguard’s top 10 list, the report said there are many indicators that malware designed to steal processing power to mine cryptocurrency is on the rise.

Earlier this year, it was reported that 30% of networks worldwide have experienced compromise attempts by cryptocurrency mining malware targeting web servers. Among the top countries targeted were the US, the UK, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The report was created after analyzing data from nearly 40,000 active Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances globally.

“Our Threat Lab team has uncovered multiple indicators that suggest malicious crypto miners are becoming a mainstay in cybercriminals’ arsenals and will continue to grow more dominant,” said Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at WatchGuard Technologies.

The report details delivery mechanisms for crypto-miner attacks and explores other prevalent security threats targeting small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and distributed enterprises.