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Cryptojacking attacks rise as hackers try to exploit boom

Crypto mining trojans are still ravaging the Internet, according to security firm Kaspersky. Miners are special types of malicious programmes, which are designed to secretly use a computer’s resources to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers can siphon as much as 70-80% of a computer’s power and use them to mine cryptocurrency.

According to Kaspersky, the total number of users who encountered miners on their devices increased to 200,045 in March from 187,746 in January, the first quarter of 2021. A total of 432,171 unique users encountered miners during the first quarter of 2021, and the number of unique modifications to miners increased by over four times, from 3,815 to 16,934. Unique modifications means changes in a miner’s code in order to accommodate different currencies or devices.

Miners used to be common in the 2017-18 period during the crypto boom. They made up just under 5% of all malware in 2018, according to another report by the security firm. However, they became somewhat irrelevant as large mining farms emerged in China and otherwise. A single computer’s resources are no match for a mining farm, which produces the same kind of power as some data centers.

Since success in mining depends on the amount of processing power a miner has, trojans like these will need to infect thousands (or many more) computers to really gain any success. It seems the cryptocurrency bull run over the first quarter this year inspired attackers to turn to miner trojans again.

“It’s too early to say for sure if the trend we’ve noted in Q1 2021 is here to stay. However, it does seem that the increase in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has sparked a renewed interest in miners.,” said Evgeny Lopatin, a security expert at Kaspersky. “If the crypto markets remain strong this year, it’s likely we’ll continue to see more instances of users encountering miners,” he added.

On the other hand, cryptojacking attacks can be useful in countries that make mining and crypto transactions illegal. Crypto mining is a process that creates new tokens, which means attackers can earn cryptocurrencies directly, instead of having to make fiat currency deposits to an exchange or wallet. Livemint

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