Kaspersky Lab recently published a report that says that there has been a significant shift in cybercriminals going from ransomware attacks to crypto-mining malware. Higher profitability is the primary reason for that. And that is why we have seen a decline in ransomware attacks.
In 2017 we saw a large-scale ransomware attack, WannaCry that caused a global havoc after it spread to several organizations including the UK National Health Service hospitals across England and Scotland. This ransomware attack encrypted all the files on the computers and demanded bitcoin payments as ransom to unlock the files.
The ransomware attack used a Microsoft Windows exploit that allowed it to do that.
However, the report says that it was not a trend, but an isolated surge of attacks. Which has proven to be true.
There have been lesser ransomware attacks being reported since then.
According to the report, the total number of users that encountered a ransomware attack in 2017-2018 fell by almost 30% to 1,811,937 from 2,581,026 in 2016-2017. Ransomware attacks on mobile devices have been even lower.
But here’s the proof of the significant shift from ransomware to crypto jacking; the number of users that encountered malicious miners increased by 44.5% in just the last year. It makes for a more profitable prospect for cybercriminals to go for crypto jacking instead of ransomware because of the discreteness of the mining software and the simple monetizing model of mining.
It makes sense that PCs would be able to provide more computational power for mining, but mobile-based mining attacks have also been steadily on the rise lately. Countries like Venezuela, Myanmar and Nepal were some of the countries that have been affected the most by mobile-based crypto jacking attacks.
There have also been reports of browser-based mining that uses a special script that is executed in the victim’s web page and allows the hacker to mine cryptocurrencies.
But that raises the question about whether or not if these attacks for installing miners would reach the level of ransomware attacks. And if it does, it will attract a lot of attention. And that is not the kind of thing a hacker making big money off of illegally installed miners would like.
McAfee, an American cybersecurity firm did a similar research and concluded that crypto jacking attacks have been on the rise. The surprising news was that in just the first quarter of 2018, these attacks have risen by more than 600 percent.
Steve Grobman, the CTO of McAfee told in a statement to the Financial Times, “With the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, market forces are driving criminals to crypto jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency.”