Table of Contents
- What is Crypto Malware?
- Why are Crypto-Malware attacks becoming more common?
- What are the consequences of a Crypto-Malware attack?
- Famous Crypto Malware
- How to protect yourself against Crypto-Malware Attacks
Crypto-Malware is a type of malware that allows a threat actor to engage in crypto-jacking. While the mechanism employed by hackers is roughly the same as that utilized by legal crypto-miners, crypto-malware uses the devices and computing capacity of another user to obtain money. As a result, these assaults consume enormous resources from the victim’s computer without providing any benefit to the device’s owner.
What is Crypto Malware?
A crypto malware is a sort of software that allows threat actors to mine for cryptocurrency on someone else’s computer or server. Since 2017, it has become one of the most prevalent malware variants. Why?
The surge in popularity of crypto virus is most likely due to the fact that Crypto-mining is a resource-intensive operation that increases a user’s energy bill and consumes his or her computer’s processing capacity, preventing other tasks from being completed at the same time.
In 2014, the first crypto virus was discovered, which mined bitcoins on the Odyssey computer cluster at Harvard University.
However, Crypto Malware first made news in 2017, when hackers increased their efforts to takeover improperly secured PCs, servers, and even browsers in order to fill their own cryptocurrency wallets. Former US Federal Reserve employee Nicholas Berthaume used his employer’s computers to mine for bitcoins in one especially unique assault.
From 500,000 in 2017 to 4 million in 2018, the volume of crypto malware increased by 4,000%. Coinhive and XM Rig, two crypto virus types that mined Monero currencies, were the most widely disseminated malware of 2019.
Why are Crypto-Malware attacks becoming more common?
Crypto-malware assaults are becoming increasingly popular among hackers as the value of bitcoin rises and its use becomes more widespread. Crypto-malware, in most situations, may run independently and forever once executed on the victim’s device. As a result, attackers may expect a consistent return on crypto-malware as long as the code stays undiscovered.
With new varieties of crypto-malware being developed and new cryptocurrencies entering the market on a regular basis, we are likely to witness an increase in crypto-malware assaults in the near future.
What is the operation of Crypto-Malware?
Crypto-malware, unlike other malware, does not seek to steal data. Rather, it uses the victim’s device to mine bitcoin invisibly and constantly for as long as feasible.
Crypto-malware is a quiet threat that is frequently camouflaged as genuine software and, once downloaded, embeds harmful code into multiple apps and programs. When the victim uses their device, this malware will run in the background and mine for cash.
A hacked ad or website is a more advanced technique of infection. When a user visits an infected website, the script is automatically executed on the victim’s device. This type of attack is much more difficult to detect since the malicious code is placed in the browser rather than on the machine.
What are the consequences of a Crypto-Malware attack?
Because crypto-malware does not directly steal data, it may not be considered a serious cyber threat on par with a pricey ransomware assault, large-scale data breach, or disruptive virus or Trojan.
However, its continuing usage of the victim’s computational resources to mine cryptocurrencies is taxing and has a considerable impact on the user’s productivity. Most victims will have considerably decreased system processing rates and may be unable to execute numerous things at the same time.
Famous Crypto Malware
Over time, we have seen a variety of crypto malware infiltrate victims’ machines. Some have achieved notoriety, such as:
- PowerGhost: It is known to attack business networks especially in India, Turkey, Brazil, and Colombia in order for cybercriminals to receive the most bang for their dollars.
- MinerGate: is well-known for its evasion strategy of pausing its function when the victim’s machine is in use. To avoid being discovered, it detects mouse movements and pauses mining efforts.
- BadShell: Avoids detection by using Windows processes. It employs PowerShell to inject malware into running processes, Task Scheduler to keep the malware running, and registries to store the malware’s binary code.
- Facexworm: A malicious Chrome plugin that infects users’ PCs by using Facebook Messenger. While it began as an adware dropper, it is now targeting cryptocurrency exchanges and delivering malicious crypto mining malware.
- WinstarNssmMiner: If WinstarNssmMiner is deleted, it is known to crash the victim’s machine.
- CoinMiner: Known for locating and terminating cryptocurrency mining activities (if the victim is engaged mining) in order to execute and send coins to its operator.
How to protect yourself against Crypto-Malware Attacks
Crypto-malware assaults are a newer occurrence. This, along with their difficulty in detection, makes them incredibly tough to defend against. In most circumstances, prudent online behaviour on the part of the user is the best line of defense. This includes the following:
- Never open unsolicited links or download unknown attachments.
- Only allowing access to URLs that begin with HTTPS.
- Using a spam filter to keep the bulk of infected emails out of your inbox.
- Investing in cybersecurity software that will identify and even prevent numerous risks from invading your device.
- Enabling two-factor authentication wherever feasible, making it far more difficult for attackers to exploit.
Organizations must take extra precautions to safeguard their company assets, customers, workers, and reputation against all sorts of malware and ransomware variations. Among the steps are:
- Ascertain that remote services, VPNs, and Multifactor Authentication (MFA) solutions are completely patched, setup, and integrated.
- To strengthen security posture, use machine learning in combination with anomaly detection algorithms to discover trends associated with attacks, such as lower processing rates.
- Look for DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail), and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) failures as indicators of fraudulent activity.
- Scan incoming message attributes, particularly the Attachment Detail property, for malware-related attachment types (such as HTA, EXE, and PDF) and submit them to be evaluated for further malware indications.
- Create a strong staff training program that informs them about the dangers and signs of spoofing attacks and other exploit tactics. When feasible, use assault simulators to provide a realistic training environment.