New evidence has come to light that revealed that over 1.36 million computers have been involved in the new cryptocurrency mining scam over the course of 2017. This is the largest number of computers affected by malware since 2011 and is all done without the computer owner’s knowledge.
Cryptocurrenices have been alluring to an array of criminals thanks to its anonymity. But recently we’ve seen the rise of a brand-new scam: Cryptocurrency mining. This is where scammers load an unsuspecting owner’s computer with software to “mine” currency which makes them a profit.
Cryptocurrency mining is very attractive considering how much profit one can make. The scammer does this by establishing a computer, or group of computers that work nonstop to solve cryptocurrency equations, in order to make entirely new funds. These funds are then deposited to the miners responsible to repay the resources they used. While cryptocurrency mining is strictly legal, miners are now installing software on other people’s computers without their knowledge. The malware can then profit the miner, without the owner of the computer knowing a thing about it.
New information from Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm, suggests that 2017 has seen more computers infected with malware mining software since 2011. Up until now, they’ve detected more than 1.65 million infected computers. What’s also worrying is that these miners don’t just aim for home computers, but for more powerful machines like company server systems as well.
According to Anton Ivanov, a researcher for Kaspersky, the most crippling effect for infected machines, home computers or company servers will be overall reduced or slowed performance. He also states that some miners download certain modules onto a machine which could contain a whole array of dangerous malware, like Trojans.
While no firm or source of information can definitely know just how much miners have been profiting by this latest scam, one mining company that has been identified boasted a digital wallet containing well over $200,000 USD.
So far the main cryptocurrencies targeted by miners have been Zcash and Monero. It is notable that Bitcoin has not been targeted as Bitcoin is the most valuable cryptocurrency. This seems to reiterate that Bitcoin’s encryption is just too difficult for the average Joe to manage. The only people who have ventured to mine Bitcoin have been large companies, mostly based in China, who have the capacity and skills to run large server farms. Thus smaller cryptocurrencies such as Zcash or Monero promise more immediate profits for small scale hackers. In addition to this, Zcash and Monero also offer both its users and miners more anonymity than Bitcoin or Ethereum.
According to Ivanov, the soar in cryptocurrency mining in 2017 can be attributed the continued rising of cryptocurrency value as well as the suspected value of digital assets in the future.
But how do you know if your computer is affected? The most tell-tale signs to watch out for is if your computer becomes inexplicably slow, or if your electricity bill suddenly exorbitantly increases.