Malicious Cryptocurrency Mining: A $100 Million Hacker’s Dream

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Talos, a leading cyber security intelligence firm, estimates that malicious breaches in cryptocurrency mining operations could be netting hackers more than $100 million a year.

Why Hacking Miners Is The New Trend

Hackers aren’t just going after mining operations because cryptocurrency is worth a lot of money (we’ll do the math in a minute). They do it because it’s easy to get away with it.

Hackers decide what cryptocurrency they want to target and build things called botnets. A botnet is a series ofInternet-connectedd devices infected with malicious software that the owner of those devices is unaware of.

Today, botnets can be created using almost any device in the Internet of Things landscape. That means hackers can do a lot more than just spam you with emails or flood a bitcoin exchange with a DDoS attack.

The Math

They can steal mining profits. Just imagine that you’re browsing the web or checking email. A hacker can leverage the energy you are using to get nodes to mine more currency. One computer can generate about 28 cents worth of Monero per day. That means a botnet stacked with 2,000 devices can generate $568 worth of Monero per day. That’s over $200,000 per year.

Consider that a coin like Monero has risen in value are most 3000% in the last 12 months, and it’s easy to see how scaling netbots and rising values can lead a team of hackers to $100 million a year.

2,000 devices may sound like a lot. But a skilled hacker like Alexey Khiprov. He’s developed many popular gaming apps for Google’s Android devices and his plan to monetize those games was to redirect the power of 100,000 devices playing them into a mining operation.

If he were able to pull it off, users would have had no idea.

So What’s Next?

The advancement of technology and the willingness of hackers is an ongoing game of cat and mouse. Rest assured as long as stealing computing power to mine cryptocurrency is profitable, it will keep happening.

It was just 20 years ago that a group of young hackers from Boston informed the US Senate they had figured out how to shut down the Internet.

Now here we are in 2018. Government regulators are trying to throw the hammer down on cryptocurrency. Enthusiasts are trying to keep their digital stores of value safe. And hackers are trying to steal that value.

There really is no telling what happens next. But as long as you don’t know about it and continue using devices hooked up to the Internet, hackers will have no problem borrowing your processing power to make a few dollars.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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