23 Mar Escaping crypto-mining attacks
The experts at Kaspersky have compiled a cheat sheet for escaping crypto-mining attacks.
Like company stocks, cryptocurrency too is a volatile market. It has its boom-and-bust phase from time to time. But what doesn’t have a bust phase is cyberattacks. Although the value of cryptocurrencies nosedived significantly recently, criminal activity targeting cryptocurrency industry does not seem to be slowing down. In the first six months of 2022, businesses in the GCC experienced 802,029 crypto mining detections as reported by Kaspersky telemetry. Similarly, in Q3 2022, Kaspersky researchers saw a sharp increase in crypto miner variants globally – an overall growth of over 230% compared to the same period last year. The number is three times more than in the third quarter of 2021 and now exceeds $150,000.
What is crypto mining and why do cybercriminals need your personal or company devices?
Crypto mining is the unauthorised use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. Cybercriminals install malicious miner programs on victims ‘computers to use its processing power for mining, without incurring any of the equipment or electricity costs. Crypto mining does not require much specialist technical expertise. In fact, all the attacker needs to know is how to create a miner using open-source code, or where to buy one. If the crypto mining malware is installed successfully on the victim’s computer, it provides its operator with steady earnings. Cybercriminals carefully analyse the workload of infected servers and take only part of the resources, to remain unnoticed.
What’s the impact of crypto mining?
Businesses and people alike can fall victim to crypto mining attacks. It is common for crypto miners to infiltrate personal computers through malicious files masquerading as pirated content –films, music, games and software. For businesses, the threats are far worse.
Unwanted crypto mining can lead to:
- Increased load on company servers, which, just like a DDOS attack, can take services offline.
- Unavailability or unstable operation of services means losses.
- Increased costs of maintaining cloud infrastructure, especially for companies that supply customers with services on the cloud. Cybercriminals can create multiple accounts on such services all at once and use these to run miners without letting them consume more resources than the service provides under a free account.
What can companies do to stay safe?
The very fact that some kind of illegal activity is being carried out on your company’s computers means your IT infrastructure has vulnerabilities. Businesses can follow the following recommendations: Use reliable security solutions, preferably with specially designed anti-crypto mining technologies. Also install protection software on embedded devices (public displays, terminals, etc.) and enable Default Deny mode where possible. Restrict access to infrastructure management — the fewer employees have high access privileges; the less likely access will be compromised. Monitor traffic and immediately investigate any abnormal increase in processor usage needs. Pay increased attention to the timely remediation of vulnerabilities in software that handles the infrastructure or platform, as attackers can exploit them to hack into and install miners. Have a well-tuned alert system for atypical activity and engage experts who can respond quickly. For the public, we recommend people to:
- Check the website’s authenticity. Do not visit websites allowing you to watch a movie until you are sure that they are legitimate and start with ‘https’. Confirm that the website is genuine, read website reviews and double-check the format of the URL.
- Security solutions will protect your computer and other devices from unauthorised usage of your PC computing power to generate cryptocurrency and prevent deterioration of PC performance.
- Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent attackers from infiltrating your network by exploiting vulnerabilities.
The silver lining is that cryptofinance be detected if you know what and which red flags to look out for. That is why it is extremely important to raise awareness about the first signs and stop crypto miners in their tracks from profiting off your resources.