There’s been a near-500% increase in cryptocurrency mining malware in the last year

Worrying new figures suggest the problem of crypto-jacking is only getting worse…

This year has seen no shortage of stories regarding the practice of crypto-jacking. This is where malware is loaded onto an affected computer, without the user realising it. Whilst the software in this case does no damage to files and such like (at least in theory), instead it quietly harvests the power of the computer concerned, and mines cryptocurrency in the background. The most many end users ever notice is that their computer is running slower than usual. That said, it’s still inconvenient, and the rise in crypto-jacking malware has been an area of some concern.

With good reason, too. A new report from the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) has now concluded that “illicit cryptocurrency mining has increased significantly in just a few months”.

The headline finding is particularly worrying. “Combined data from several CTA members shows a 459 percent increase in illicit cryptocurrency mining malware detections since 2017”, the report notes, “and recent quarterly trend reports from CTA members show that this rapid growth shows no signs of slowing down”.

A few alarm bells as a consequence. Firstly, there are clearly gaps in a system’s security if cryptocurrency-jacking malware can get through its defences in the first place. That just because this particular malware doesn’t tend to do much damage, it’s nonetheless exposed a gap that others are likely to follow. Secondly, the trend is dramatically upwards, and it’s not hard to foresee more damaging malware around the corner.

The full report certainly makes for sobering reading, and you can take a look at a copy here. In particular, from page 18 onwards of the document is a list of recommended best practices for organisations to follow, albeit centred around common sense, rather than anything radical.

Crypto-jacking is believed to be earning the creators of the malware millions a month. Unchecked, even with the price pressures on crypto-mining, that’s a number that’s heading upwards too…

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