Want to better understand the relationship between cryptocurrency markets and coin-related malware? Top security analyst Kaspersky Labs has some insight, just published this week, that shows some interesting correlations.
A new Kaspersky bulletin points out how the practice of “cryptojacking” (using computing power for coin mining in an illicit way) works similarly to other types of hacking such as ransomware.
“Cryptocurrency miners that infect the computers of unsuspecting users essentially operate according to the same business model as ransomware programs: the victim’s computing power is harnessed to enrich the cybercriminals,” writes Evgeny Lopatin. “Only in the case of miners, it might be quite a while before the user notices that 70–80% of their CPU or graphics card power is being used to generate virtual coins. Encrypted documents and ransomware messages are far harder to miss.”
The report also shows past trends of cryptojacking attacks, and this is where it gets interesting.
Kaspersky charts the numbers of cryptojacking attacks against big changes in the value of top cryptocurrencies at the beginning of this year.
“2018 began with a rise in the number of miner-related attacks,” Lopatin writes. “However, after a drop in the value of the main cryptocurrencies, which lasted from January to February, infection activity noticeably declined. General interest in cryptocurrencies also waned.”
But while Kaspersky does tie the higher numbers of cryptojacking attacks to the cryptocurrency “boom,” analysts are also keen to point out that there is a more long-term trend going on as well – toward cryptojacking and away from other traditional types of attacks.
“The graph clearly shows that while the number of cryptominer attacks decreased, the threat is still current,” Lopatin writes.
Also included in the report is indications that operators of large botnets – automated pools of server activity targeting networks – have changed their model away from distributed denial of service attacks to focus on cryptojacking instead. This isn’t really the type of thing you can turn on a dime, and the idea is that these botnet operators are going to continue doing cryptojacking even when the coin market isn’t going great guns.
Kaspersky points to the inconspicuous nature of cryptojacking as another potential draw.
“Mining differs favorably for cybercriminals in that, if executed properly, it can be impossible for the owner of an infected machine to detect, and thus the chances of encountering the cyberpolice are far lower,” Lopatin adds. “And the reprofiling of existing server capacity completely hides its owner from the eyes of the law.”
Add that to the anonymous capabilities associated with using dark web crypto coins like Monero, and you have every cybercriminal’s dream.
For traders and investors, what this type of report points to is that you can read the tea leaves on futures, to an extent, by looking at cryptojacking – that cryptojacking trends suggest a form of demand.
With Bitcoin down in the dumps around $4000 right now, this news provides a glimmer of hope for long-term Bitcoin holders. Aside from news that big retailers like Starbucks are gearing up to except Bitcoin, and all of those new government and business group programs using blockchain as a verifiable platform, you have the long-term investment in cryptojacking, which suggests that regardless of what prices you see on the tickers, cryptocurrency, like rock and roll, is here to stay.