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Crypto-currency mining malware, the next frontier for cyber-criminals

It is not uncommon for cyber-criminals to try stealing money from unsuspecting computer users. They have been doing that with ransomware since 2015. May it be via worms, fake antivirus, phishing and banking related Trojans, it is a fact that it has been done before. The methodologies may have changed and the tactics, but the same sinister purpose is in play.

There is a new threat that has been analyzed and recorded by Insikt Group researchers. It has been said that they have been targeting weakened systems. It has been identified that malicious crypto-currency mining is a viable long-term slow moving revenue sources for the cyber-criminals. Their analysis shows that it gives opportunities for not just crooks but other groups or countries to capitalize on this.

Fraudulent money and bank transfers seems to be profitable for criminals, but it is more complicated to maneuver and execute successfully. In most cases, web-injects are popular for automatic money-transferring malware. It would be a bit difficult to launder though.

Here comes crypto-currencies, and it is a better avenue since it is irreversible once transferred. Due to the more sophisticated methods they are using, it might become a global epidemic soon since they have minimal risk of getting caught.

Mining malware capitalizes on the processing power of the victim’s computers processing power. It gained popularity among the underground community on the second half of 2017. There have been various types of mining malware ranging in price, function and features.

What makes it profitable would depend on how long security researchers to detect them. It should have the capability of hiding from task manager in order for it to be successful. There are some variants that terminate the mining process if a video game has been launched to avoid detection.

Bitcoin wallet analysis is a common conversation among criminal communities. This confirms the existence and prevalence of this kind of malware. And at one point, a hacker was satisfied with the results of his trial infection.

However, the security researchers did not identify any North-Korean crypto-currency mining malware, they still have shown interest in both legally and illegally obtaining crypto-currencies. It might be near future, but one thing is for sure; they have experience with botnets, bitcoin mining and crypto-currencies. Once they get their thing together, it is just a matter of time before it all gets into motion.

The security researchers were able to get their hands on a full featured malware called “1ms0rry MINERPANEL”. The said malware is being sold in the criminal underground ranging from $35 to $850 and depending on which version you purchase, it gives a step-by-step guide for building and deploying the miner.

There is uncertainty in the air when this will be a formidable threat, but its time will come that it might dominate the malware market. Hopefully, when the time comes, there will be security safeguards in place to protect crypto-currencies from being stolen.


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