Crypto Mining Malware More Popular Among Cybercriminals Than Ransomware

Crime, News | July 19, 2018 By:

Crypto mining malware has dominated the threat landscape in the first half of 2018, according to a report by Skybox Security.

Cryptomining malwares are software programs developed to take over a computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining without a user’s explicit permission.

In its mid-year update to the Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report, Skybox said that malicious crypto mining made up nearly a third of attacks in the first half of 2018, a statistic held by ransomware in the last half of 2017.

“In the last six months of 2017, ransomware accounted for 32 percent of attacks, while malicious cryptominers accounted for seven percent,” the firm said. “By the first half of 2018, the figures had switched almost exactly: malicious cryptominers accounted for 32 percent of attacks while ransomware dropped to eight percent.”

According to the report, high–profit opportunity and low chance of being discovered or stopped are the main reasons for the swap in popularity.

“In the last few years, ransomware reigned supreme as the shortcut money-maker for cybercriminals,” said Skybox CTO Ron Davidson. “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.”

“Ransomware received a lot of attention in years past, especially thanks to the likes of WannaCry, NotPetya and BadRabbit,” said Skybox Director of Threat Intelligence Marina Kidron and leader of the Research Lab behind the report. “To some extent, organizations took note and put effective precautions in place, ensuring they had reliable back-ups and even thwarting attackers with decryption programs. So cybercriminals found — in cryptomining — a path of lesser resistance. The recent uptick in value of cryptocurrencies also made this an incredibly profitable attack option.”