While 2017 has seen a huge increase in cryptography, reports show that this figure has increased exponentially in 2018. According to the September report of the Cyber Threat Alliance, cryptojacking has increased by 500% this year.
Focus on Monero
According to Palo Alto Networks, a computer security company based in Santa Clara, Calif., Most mining malware is focused on anonymised cryptocurrency, Monero. According to the company, 84.5% of malware attacks are focused on Monero, while Bitcoin and other coins represent 8% and 7% respectively.
The reason why the cryptographers have focused on Monero is that it is not just a private currency, but it is also the most precious currency for privacy in the cryptocurrency market. Monero is currently ranked 10th in terms of market capitalization in the cryptocurrency market. The digital currency has a market capitalization of $ 1.90 billion (at the time of writing).
To ensure anonymity, Monero uses Cryptonight, the job testing algorithm that mixes user input with other user inputs. The algorithm also uses a ring of confidential transactions, which hides the amount of XMR (Monero) that is moved. This structure, unfortunately, also makes the encryption a perfect target for cyber criminals.
Monero was already popular with cryptographers in 2017, however, some developments have made it the number one goal for these criminals this year. One of the biggest changes is the easy availability of low-cost mining malware on the dark web.
Province of Amateur Cryptojackers
According to Group-IB, a Russian computer security company, the obscure web has been flooded with cheap and easy-to-use mining software, costing just $ 0.50. In 2017, Group-IB found about 99 posts on the dark web offering to sell cryptojacking software. In 2018, this number reached 477, with a 381.8% increase in the availability of cryptojacking software.
Thanks to the easy availability of cryptographic software at low cost, even people without technical background can try their hand at hacking. In fact, cryptojacking is becoming known as a hobbyist crime, the province of amateur cryptojackers.
It is also possible that surveys have increased this year precisely because they are amateurs who try hacks rather than experts. It could also be that detection measures taken by governmental and cyber security agencies have improved in recent years.
Whatever the case, it was noted that the number of PC cryptojacking victims rose to 2.7 million for 2017-2018 compared to 1.9 million in 2016-2017.
The Kaspersky Lab malware analyst, Evgeny Lopatin, however, believes that while the best amateurs and detection methods can play a role, in reality there has been a real increase in the number of malware cases for encryption.