Cryptomining Malware a Bigger Threat than Ransomware: Report

Cryptocurrency Marketplace Hack with $64 Million in Bitcoin Stolen, and attackers penetrated IBM SoftLayer database systems cryptomining

A new report by cybersecurity firm Skybox has claimed that ‘cryptojacking’, or illicit cryptocurrency mining, has become more popular among cybercriminals than ransomware.

Malicious cryptocurrency miners now total some 32 percent of all cyberattacks while ransomware comes at a relatively meagre 8 percent, the firm said in its mid-year update. A popular form of illicit gains, cryptojacking uses hidden code on websites or targeted devices to use their victims’ computing power to mine cryptocurrency.

There has been a notable shift among cybercriminals opting to use cryptojacking over ransomware, the research claimed, covering trends between January and June 2018. While the 2017 report in the same period found that 32 percent of cyberattacks stemmed from ransomware compared to seven percent of cryptomining attacks, it has been a reversal in 2018, with cryptomining at 32 percent compared to ransomware at 8 percent of all attacks.

Skybox CTO and vice president of research and development Ron Davidson said in statements to Computing:

In the last few years, ransomware reigned supreme as the shortcut money-maker for cybercriminals. It doesn’t require data exfiltration, just encryption to hold the data hostage and a ransom note of how the victim can pay up. With cryptominers, the criminals can go straight to the source and mine cryptocurrency themselves. There’s no question of if they’ll be paid or not.”

The rise in cryptojacking is directly correlated to the soaring gains in value by cryptocurrencies toward the end of 2017. Further, the increasing adoption of mitigation measures against ransomware including data backups and other software to protect end-users were also seen as a factor.

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