Crypto-jacking campaigns increased substantially in the first quarter of 2019 according to a McAfee Labs Threats Report published yesterday.
The prevalence of ransomware attacks climbed a massive 118% during Q1, while malware attacks increased by 29% in the same period. The report also states that the attacks were indiscriminate, meaning that both Windows and Apple users were targeted. The majority of attacks on Windows users were carried out using PowerShell, which is a scripting language that allows system administrators to rapidly automate tasks and manage operating systems.
One of the larger crypto-jacking campaigns reported by McAfee was the malware PsMiner, which is specifically targeted at Monero (XMR). XMR is currently the 12th largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $1.16 billion USD and is popular among users as it allows for completely anonymous peer-to-peer transactions, without even tracing the user’s address, as well as the potential for high rewards. Recently, French authorities stopped a virus that had infected over 850,000 devices in order to mine Monero.
Apple users were targeted by a malware called CookieMiner, which shared code with a past campaign in order to steal digital wallets and credentials. CookieMiner stole data from many popular exchanges, including Binance, Coinbase, and MyEtherWallet. Despite the huge increase in crypto-jacking campaigns, McAfee’s report stressed that hackers still require the involuntary cooperation of victims. “Even with all the sophisticated attack techniques being developed, attackers are still highly dependent on human interaction and social engineering,” the report concluded.
McAfee’s report comes just weeks after CipherTrace published its Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Report. This report estimated that in Q1 2019, cryptocriminals illicitly obtained 1.2 billion USD in cryptocurrency. Both of these reports reiterate the need for increased monitoring of crypto platforms by authorities. In June, the G20 nations gave their full support to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) new “traffic rule,” which requires transactions between exchanges to include personal information about the sender and receiver of funds.
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