While the number of ransomware families continues to decline, malicious cryptocurrency miners have exploded in the last year.
In the fourth quarter, there were nearly four million new samples of malware for coin miners, compared to 2.5 million in the previous quarter, according to McAfee's threat report for December 2018.
According to McAfee, the new token malware grew by around 55 percent during the quarter, with total malware growing at 4,467 percent compared to last year.
In 2017, the year WannaCry and NotPetya had billions of losses, the number of cryptocurrency miners did not exceed 250,000. However, by the first quarter of 2018, the number of new McAfee crypto-miners has reached 2.5 million.
Although less obviously harmful than ransomware, they can be disruptive and expensive: after the cryptojacking attack at a Canadian university in November, he was forced to shut down the entire network to mitigate the malware that causes the CPU .
Some examples, like PowerGhost, also disable Microsoft's integrated antivirus, Windows Defender, exposing infected machines to other malware. Microsoft also warned that employees seeking to take advantage of a company's hardware could also intentionally introduce miners.
The rise of miners of malignant cryptocurrencies has followed the imposing peak of 2017 in the price of bitcoin, which started the year at $ 996 and closed over $ 13,000. Today, of course, it fell to around $ 3,500, dragging other more commonly mined coins like Monero downwards.
Alongside the decline in Bitcoin and other currencies, McAfee notes that attackers are finding new ways to cash in human vulnerability and weakness. Examples include OSX.Dummy, which has been disseminated in messages on Slack, Telegram and Discord, which purport to solve cryptographic problems, but instead exposed Mac users to an exploit.
This year, hackers also used a vulnerability in MiktoTik routers to turn 3,700 devices into data slaves.
"We usually do not think of using IoT routers or devices as IP cameras or video recorders as cryptos because their CPUs are not as powerful as desktop and laptop computers," he says. However, due to the lack of adequate security checks, cybercriminals can take advantage of the volume compared to the speed of the CPU. If they can control thousands of devices that are mine for a long time, they can still make money.
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