Cryptojacking to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is about to surpass ransomware as the most common cyberactivity for financial gain.
For the last couple of years, ransomware attacks have been on the rise, for a variety of reasons. First, they’re fairly simple to pull off; even better, they’re easy to fake with some social engineering and a few key snippets of code embedded in a website. More importantly, ransomware attacks have proven to be pretty effective, especially if the target has something more to lose from the attack. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, and schools were hit hard by this kind of cyber crime because they stood to lose even more money in fines and legal fees for allowing hackers to lock up or access their files, making the ransom seem like a pretty good bargain.
Now, new studies show that cryptojacking another computer in order to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is about to surpass ransomware as the more common mode of financial gain-based cyberactivity. According to Mathew J Schwartz for BankInfoSecurity, “Numerous studies have found that the most seen malware attacks today are designed for cryptojacking, which involves infecting systems with malicious code that uses CPUs to mine for cryptocurrency. Mining means solving complex computational challenges that verify cryptocurrency system transactions, which adds them to the cryptocurrency’s blockchain. In return, miners may receive cryptocurrency back as a reward.”
One of the chief indicators for a victim pool might just be one of the most mundane reasons: the price of electricity. First, the utility cost of mining a single coin is often astronomically higher than that value of the currency itself. In countries like South Korea where the power requirements to maintain the processing time would cost triple the current value of one Bitcoin, targets in the US are ideal. As the country ranked 40th in the world for electricity costs, a foreign miner could infect US systems in order to take advantage of the currency without footing the electric bill. Cryptojacking not only gives the hacker the necessary processing speeds to accomplish mining in something resembling a timely fashion, but also lets someone else pay the bill.
But why would these attacks surpass ransomware?
Time. The clock is ticking on the numbers of Bitcoin left to be mined, and once the last block is established, many investors expect the price to skyrocket in response. The race to grab what’s left means even the most current technology for mining may not work fast enough.