Beware: Cryptojacking Attempts Surge 300% In Q1 of 2020, Kaspersky Reports

According to the Russian-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, the first three months of 2020 have seen an increased number of cryptojacking of computers for cryptocurrency mining.

A report from the company said that the highest percentage surge had been spotted in South-east Asia.

Cryptojacking Attempts On The Rise

The term cryptojacking is used when an attacker gains unauthorized access to a computer or mobile device to mine (or mint) cryptocurrencies. Typically, the perpetrator plants a cryptomining malware designed to use just enough processing power from the infected computer to remain unnoticed for as long as possible.

The multinational cybersecurity company said in its recent paper that is has blocked more than 11,700 cryptojacking attempts between January and March this year in Singapore alone. More worryingly, Kaspersky noted that this is more than a threefold increase from the same period last year when the attempts equaled 2,900.

Singapore is among the most preferred targets for cryptojacking because it provides the necessary IT infrastructure and fast Internet speed, revealed Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for South-east Asia at Kaspersky.

“Cybercriminals use various means to install miner programs on other people’s computers, preferably in bulk, and take all the profit from cryptocurrency mining without incurring any of the equipment or electricity costs.

It is now no longer profitable to mine cryptocurrency using one’s own equipment and electricity. It is better to resort to hijacking other resources for the mining of cryptocurrency,” Tiong added.

Methods For Gaining Access

Kaspersky’s report also outlined the preferred malicious activities employed by hackers to gain the unauthorized access needed for cryptojacking.

Generally, they rely on social engineering tactics such as fake links in emails or on websites. By clicking on those, the duped victims unknowingly install the malicious code onto their devices and wider networks that turn them into mining tools.

The surge of such attempts in the last year could be attributed to the rising number of people working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, believes K.K. Lim, head of cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection at a law firm.

He explained that home computers might not have the latest security updates, which increases opportunities like phishing.

Another recent survey revealed that 86% of IT professionals said that cryptojacking is a serious security threat. However, many non-IT specialists admitted that they are not taking any appropriate steps to ensure their devices.

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