What is Crypto-Malware?
Cyber-malware is a type of malware that allows the threat actor to execute crypto-jacking activity. Although the method used by hackers is identical to legitimate crypto miners, crypto-malware makes use of the devices of another user and their processing power to make payments. By doing this, the attacks consume substantial power from a victim’s system without generating any revenue for the user of the device.
Why are Crypto-Malware Attacks on the Rise?
The value of cryptocurrency increases and its use grows more common cyber-attacks using crypto-malware are becoming more popular with cybercriminals. Most of the time the malware can operate without interruption and continue to run indefinitely after it is executed by the device of the user. So, attackers are able to expect a constant return on crypto-malware, as long as their code goes unnoticed.
With new crypto-malware variants being developed and new crypto-currencies being introduced daily it is likely that we will witness a significant rise in the number of crypto-malware attacks in the near future.
How Does Crypto-Malware Work?
Unlike most malware, crypto-malware doesn’t intend to capture information. Instead, it uses the victim’s device to continually and quietly mine cryptocurrency for the longest time it is possible.
A sneaky threat, crypto-malware can be concealed as genuine software which after downloading, incorporates malicious code in various programs and applications. The malware will run in the background and will mine to earn currency every time the user uses their device.
The most advanced method to infect is through the use of a compromised website or advertisement. When a user visits the website infected the malicious script is executed automatically on the device of the victim. This type of attack is also difficult to identify because the malicious code isn’t stored on the computer however, it is stored within the browser.
Crypto-malware Attacks vs Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware and crypto-malware attacks are designed both to earn money for the attacker. However, the way of accomplishing this differs significantly.
The ransomware attack can encrypt the victim’s information until settlement is paid to the attacker. If no payment is completed, the attackers could then offer the data via the dark web to earn an alternative source of revenue.
Ransomware is still one of the most lucrative strategies used by cybercriminals, with the total cost of ransomware by 2020 predicted at around $20 billion, and the average ransom payout of $84,000.
Crypto-malware, on the other hand, is a silent malware that operates quietly within the background of users. Contrary to a ransomware threat that requires payment in a direct manner the criminal behind it is hoping that the malicious program is not detected until the maximum amount of time they are able to keep mining cryptocurrency with your device.
What is the Impact of a Crypto-Malware Attack?
As crypto-malware doesn’t explicitly take data, it might not be considered a serious cyber threat that is comparable to an expensive ransomware attack massive data breaches, or disruptive Trojan. But, its continual usage of a victim’s computing capacity to mine cryptocurrency drains the system and greatly affects the productivity that the victim. In the majority of cases, the victim is likely to experience a significant decrease in processing speed and might not be able to perform many tasks simultaneously.
How to Defend Yourself Against Crypto-malware Attacks
Cyber-malware attacks are a new phenomenon. This, along with the fact they’re difficult to identify, makes the attacks extremely hard to protect against. In the majority of cases, the best method of protection is responsible online conduct by the user. This can include:
- Beware of clicking links from unknown sources or downloading unwelcome attachments.
- Only access URLs that start with HTTPS.
- Use a spam filtering system to stop the majority of spam emails being delivered to your mailbox.
- It is recommended to invest in security software, that can detect a variety of dangers and stop the infection of your device.
- If you can, enable two-way authentication as often as is feasible, making it less difficult for attackers to gain access.
Businesses must take additional measures to safeguard their assets employees, customers, and reputation from various types of ransomware and malware. The steps include:
- Check that VPNs, remote services, or Multifactor Authentication (MFA) services are secured and properly integrated, and configured.
- Make use of machine learning with anomaly detection techniques to identify patterns in attacks, such as decreased processing speed to enhance security.
- Find evidence of fraudulent activities in connection with DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting as well as Conformance), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail), and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) incompatibilities.
- Scan the properties of the messages you receive such as the attachment Detail property for attachments that are malware-related (such as EXE, HTA, or PDF), and send the messages to be examined for any additional indicators of malware.
- Create a robust employee training program to educate their employees about the potential risks and signs of spoofing and other techniques for exploitation. Make use of attack simulators when feasible for creating a real-world training environment.