by Kieran Smith
Sweden has seen a surge of cryptojacking attacks, with a growth of 10,000 percent in the last quarter of 2017. This is twice the global growth rate for the same period, and more than the price of bitcoin managed in the whole year!
Cybersecurity threats are a growing global concern, and rapid developments in cryptocurrency have made this type of hacking the most lucrative. The increase in cryptojacking correlates with a decline in ransomware, suggesting thieves are moving with the tide as digital currency establishes itself.
Instead of stealing your private information, cryptojackers steal computer processing power through malware that can mine cryptocurrency remotely. This is most commonly achieved by covertly taking control of the background processes of browsers and apps.
Cryptojacking soared by 8,500 percent in 2017, and a Symantec report suggests that the practice has become more prevalent due to “a low barrier [to] entry- only requiring a couple lines of code to operate.” Low reporting rates of these sorts of crimes are also tempting cybercriminals.
Cryptojacking Overtakes Ransomware
In-browser hijacking, in particular, has caught the attention of the media, a process in which a website adds code to its page that uses visitors web browsers to perform the calculations needed to mine. This might not seem like an issue, but the calculations require significant computing power and can push CPUs to their limit.
One of the sites recently hijacked for mining was that of the Swedish Police Force, one of the thousands of websites to fall prey to a script that mined Monero on the computers of all visitors. Despite being conducted on such a large scale, and harvesting a vast amount of combined computing power, it seems the campaign was not very lucrative, with reports of profits totaling only $24.
Speaking to news agency TT, Symantec security expert Ola Rehnberg commented on its growth:
“It has just gone through the roof. I’ve never seen such a big change in the short term,”
Cryptojacking is not the only concern, and Symantec also mentions an increase in bank trojans over the same period. The wave of cryptojacking incident leads some experts to believe that it will become more of a problem than ransomware, like the notorious WannaCry attack which demanded bitcoin as a ransom according to Lotem Finkelstein, a threat intelligence analysis leader at Check Point:
“It may be becoming a more serious issue than ransomware. The problem is that [cryptojacking is] simply everywhere – on websites, servers, PCs, and mobile.”
Sweden might not be the first country to spring to mind when bitcoin is mentioned, but the state has very low cash usage, and the Riksbank has recently suggested it will create a national cryptocurrency the ‘e-krona.’