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Cryptojacking: research shows 163% surge since March

Symantec has published a report that shows that this increase in crypto-jacking activity coincides with a surge in the price of Bitcoin

Cybersecurity firm Symantec has published a new research report that reveals that the surge in crypto prices since March was accompanied by a wave of cryptojacking attacks. The report titled Threat Landscape Trends Q2 2020, looks at the cybersecurity trends from the second quarter of 2020.

Symantec’s research has shown that cryptojacking attacks have seen a 163% increase in Q2 of 2020 in comparison to previous quarters.

Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers try to get victims to click on malicious links through fraudulent emails that automatically loads crypto-mining code onto the victim’s computer.

Another commonly used method is to infect a website or an online ad with JavaScript code that auto-executes once loaded in the victim’s browser. Cryptojacking is difficult to detect as the only noticeable change for the victim is slower performance.

Symantec explained in the report how the recent surge was preceded by a sharp decline in cryptojacking after the shutdown of browser-based mining script maker CoinHive.

The cybersecurity firm further pointed out that the increase in cryptojacking in the last quarter coincided with an increase in the value of Bitcoin and Monero – two cryptocurrencies often mined using browser-based cryptojacking malware.

Cryptojacking was one of the most prevalent forms of cyberattacks between September 2017 to March 2019. Its high activity period came to an end after CoinHive, a prominent mining service, stopped its operations on March 8, 2019. The developers noticed a 50 percent drop in hash rate following the last Monero hard fork, leading to the closure.

Josh Lemos, VP of research and intelligence at BlackBerry had previously told CoinTelegraph that crypto miners have various ways to conduct cryptojacking. “From JavaScript running on a website as a watering hole attack or embedded in a spear-phishing email to supply chain attacks with miners embedded in docker hub images and malicious browser extensions,” he explained.

However, ZDNet has suggested that the current increase in attacks was unlikely to be sustained.

“Most cybercrime groups who experimented with cryptojacking operations in the past usually dropped it weeks later, as they also discovered that browser-based cryptocurrency-mining was both a waste of their time and too noisy, drawing more attention to their respective operations than profits,” ZDNet’s report said.

Written by: Harshini Nag

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