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1 in 3 U.K. Businesses Hit by Cryptojacking in July: Study

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:55 PM
Jimmy Aki
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:55 PM

A new study published by Citrix  has suggested that approximately 30 percent of businesses in the U.K. fell victim to cryptojacking attacks in July alone, as criminals continue to push malware that secretly uses the processing power of their computers to mine cryptocurrency. The research, which was commissioned by software company Citrix, asked 750 IT executives from the United Kingdom about their experience with cryptojacking attacks.

Cryptojacking works by embedding a JavaScript component in a website, which then leverages a visitor’s device to mine cryptocurrency, thereby reducing the reliance on ads for revenue. The profitability of these attacks might seem small, as each visitor will only do a bit of mining, but the hash power adds up into real money.

The attacks are also getting more prolific, with the report from Citrix suggesting that 59 percent of UK businesses were able to detect cryptomining malware on their system. Even more notably, 80 percent of these discoveries occurred in the last six months, which coincided with when cryptojacking exploded in popularity.

Cryptjacking malware can be more dangerous than people think. It can harm your computer’s processing power and can cause physical damage to your devices. Loapi, one form of Android malware, is known to be so aggressive it can physically damage an infected device. This particular malware has been dubbed the “jack of all trades” by Kaspersky Lab researchers, emphasizing the range of the illicit activities it can do. Most notably, it contains a module that allows criminals mine monero by leaching the victim’s hardware and electricity.

The stealthy nature of the malware makes it even more difficult for organizations to discover it on their systems. Citrix reports only 16 percent of organizations discovered the malware after noticing a significant spike in slower device performance.

An encouraging fact is the presence of contingency measures put in place by businesses who have been affected by the attack. The research found that only one in five organizations don’t have contingency measures put in place, in the event of an attack.

These attacks have become popular since the launch of Coinhive, an in-browser miner that taps unused portions of the victim’s processor power to mine monero coins (XMR) in the background. A recent RWTH Aachen University study  shows that this mining tool is still actively generating around $250,000 worth of monero monthly.

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