Cryptojacking PSA: Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Now Affects Over 280,000 Routers Worldwide


Criminals are exploring new methods of obtaining cryptocurrency. As ransomware seemingly becomes less popular, new trends will emerge. Cryptojacking has become increasingly popular in this regard. In fact, this problematic industry only continues to grow as more time progresses.


The Cryptojacking Epidemic

It appears there is no shortage of inadequately protected internet-connected devices. Whether it is computers, phones, routers, consoles, or appliances, the cryptojacking threat is very real. New research shows how criminals continue to infect devices with cryptocurrency mining malware at an alarming rate. This brings the total number of compromised devices to over 280,000 worldwide.

This cryptocurrency mining malware trend is picking up steam in the past month. Nearly 80,000 additional devices were affected in this short span of time. It is a very worrisome development which shows why device protection and security needs to be a priority at all times. MikroTik routers remain a very prone target for cryptojacking efforts as of right now. This trend has gone on since August of 2018 and no permanent solution has been introduced as of yet.

In early August, nearly 200,000 MikroTik devices were identified as infected with cryptocurrency mining malware. This is achieved by exploiting various vulnerabilities on the software side of things. To this day, the manufacturer has not been able to address these flaws in a proper manner. Anyone who owns a MicroTik device is at risk of becoming a victim of this illicit activity.

What Comes Next?

Predicting the future of cryptojacking is very difficult. Criminals will use this method to make money for as long as it proves to be lucrative. At this stage, the attack vector only continues to gain more traction, which is both impressive and worrisome at the same time. Criminals can easily step up their game even further, by the look of things. For now, it seems limited to MikroTik devices, yet other companies may be subject to such attacks as well.

Despite falling prices, criminals tend to favor cryptocurrencies. This latest malware trend is a clear example of their long-term intent. The switch to Monero, rather than Bitcoin, also sends a clear message. Monero is, unlike Bitcoin, private and anonymous. That makes it easier to mask illicit revenue streams. Additionally, it can be mined with traditional hardware, including routers and mobile devices.

All of the affected devices run a modified version of CoinHive. This Monero mining tool is very easy to set up, especially on malware-infected devices. It is believed CoinHive botnets generate over $250,000 in revenue every single month. Based on those numbers, it is only normal cryptojackers try to explore new opportunities pertaining to Monero.

Have you or someone you know been a victim of cryptojacking? What steps do you take to protect yourself? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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