Cryptojacking reports have risen significantly in 2018, with everyone from government entities to major tech companies like Tesla having been affected. Russian-based cyber security and antivirus firm Kaspersky Labs says that the widespread cryptojacking phenomenon now “wears the threat crown” and has overtaken ransomware as the internet’s biggest cybercrime threat.
According to Kaspersky’s report, which compared year-over-year decreases of ransomware versus increases in reports of cryptojacking. While ransomware cases went down 30%, cryptojacking cases rose 45%. The study shows that it brings the amount of people affected by cryptojacking to nearly 2.7 million.
Kaspersky attributes cyber criminals favoring cryptojacking over ransomware, because cryptojacking is a “discreet and modest way to make money by exploiting users,” adding:
“Instead of the large one-off payout achieved with ransomware, cybercriminals employing mining as a tactic can benefit from an inconspicuous, stable and continuous flow of funds.”
Another report from a competitor cyber security firm, McAfee Labs, said that cryptojacking had risen a staggering 629% in Q1 2018. McAfee agrees that the general ease and lack of risk associated with cryptojacking is luring cyber criminals away from other crimes like identity theft or ransomware.
“This suggests that cybercriminals are warming to the prospect of monetizing infections of user systems without prompting victims to make payments, as is the case with popular ransomware schemes. Compared with well-established cybercrime activities such as data theft and ransomware, cryptojacking is simpler, more straightforward, and less risky.”
Cryptojacking is the practice of cyber criminals installing cryptocurrency-mining malware on unsuspecting user’s computers. The malware then utilizes computer resources to mine for crypto – usually Monero due to its privacy-focused design. Because Monero has a layer of anonymity, it has made cryptojacking even more attractive as transactions cannot be easily traced to an individual.