Bitcoin: Cryptominers target vulnerable users as its price hits record highs
While many Bitcoin holders are currently struggling to access their wallets, researchers at Avira’s Protection Lab have seen a 53 percent increase in cryptographic malware attacks in the last quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter. Now valued at nearly $36,000 per unit, Bitcoin is down slightly from the records set in early January. Avira’s team of researchers has reason to believe that there is a link between Bitcoin’s soaring price and malicious mining activities.
« The rapid rise in cryptographic malware suggests that its creators are taking advantage of the increase in Bitcoin’s value in recent months and are spreading more and more malware aimed at exploiting other people’s computer resources for illegal mining purposes. This correlation is not surprising, but still worrying for legitimate miners and investors, » comments Alexander Vukcevic, director of Avira’s Protection Laboratory.
Cryptominoid malware discreetly undermines
Cryptomalware or cryptomalware malware is one of the latest emerging threats. Unlike traditional ransomware, these operate completely without the user’s knowledge and are in fact particularly treacherous. The malware here does not seek to steal data or blackmail the user, but rather to operate undetected for as long as possible in order to continue its mining activities discreetly. To do this, the malware uses resources on the infected computer, such as the processor, graphics card and main memory, as well as network bandwidth. Hacking into computer resources is called cryptojacking.
The three main types of coinminers are executable files (.exe files for example), browser-based cryptominers and sophisticated, file-less miners. All with the ability to run on a variety of devices and systems.
The price of Bitcoin continues to rise
Since its inception in 2009, Bitcoin has seen its value skyrocket and has quickly become the most expensive cryptography currency in the world. Unlike most common currencies, Bitcoin’s supply is limited and has been set at 21 million. As a result, as the supply decreases, the price of Bitcoin increases. This has been happening year after year for the past 10 years. However, this does not mean that Bitcoin is not extremely volatile. Over the last few years, cryptomoney has fluctuated dramatically, so it is an increasingly risky investment. For example, on Friday, January 8, 2021, the price of Bitcoin reached an all-time high of almost $42,000, while on the following Monday morning it was trading at around $33,000, a drop of more than 20%. Although other cryptomas and stocks also fell as a result of the rising U.S. dollar, none of them made headlines like Bitcoin. The reason is simple: this cryptomony is now emblematic and it is the best known in the world.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the year 2019 has seen a phenomenal increase in the theft of cryptomoney: the equivalent of more than 4.5 billion dollars has vanished as a result of fraud or theft. This is more than double the amount in 2018. We can only assume that this trend will continue, to keep pace with the increase in malicious activity. The number of stolen Bitcoins is a matter of debate, but encryption analysts still estimate that on average 1,500 Bitcoins would be stolen every day. Coupled with the fact that approximately 900 Bitcoins are mined every day, it is understandable that the available supply is shrinking by the day.
« There’s no doubt that cryptocurrency crime is on the rise. It’s a problem that can no longer be ignored. Bitcoins users should be very careful and take precautionary measures to avoid being targeted, » says Alexander Vukcevic.